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EditorialContaining political choice

Containing political choice

Date:

 

Finally, the grave shortcoming in the process of appointing the one of top constitutional positions of Chief Election Commission (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (CE) has been straightened by the latest intervention by the five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of .

There cannot be any aspersion on working of the past and present CECs and CEs many of who were persons of eminence and who proved their mettle and made possible tremendous reforms in the election process in India in the past three decades since the days of TN Seshan and some of his successors. But it does not mean that the entire process of such a position of huge importance be left to the vagaries and free choice of the Executives who often deviate for their political interests.

It's ironic that the 's largest democracy, which has elections almost every year, has no legislation governing the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners. With such appointments made by the President on the recommendation of the Central Government, arbitrariness and lack of transparency frequently cast a shadow over the entire selection process. As a result, whenever any top officer of the Election Commission (EC) is accused of partisanship, the conduct of Assembly or parliamentary elections suffers. In a welcome intervention, the Supreme Court ruled that the President will appoint the CEC and his/her deputies based on the recommendations of a committee comprised of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). The five-judge Constitution Bench has scathingly stated that ‘unrelenting abuse' of the electoral process is the ‘surest way to the grave' for democracy, emphasising the need to preserve its sanctity.

Involving the Chief Justice and the Leader of the Opposition in the appointments is an important step towards ensuring that the onerous task of conducting free and fair elections in the country is entrusted to upright, competent, and impartial officers. It is also critical to ensure that key positions such as CEC and Election Commissioners are not reduced to sinecures for retired bureaucrats with political ties. The Supreme Court has stated unequivocally that its instructions on EC appointments will remain in effect until Parliament passes legislation. Despite the fact that Article 324 of the Constitution states that these appointments will be made by the President “subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament,” our legislators have failed to do so for decades. This grave injustice must be corrected as soon as possible by enacting comprehensive legislation.

The committee-based selection procedure should be extended to other constitutional positions, such as the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Chairman of the UPSC. This step can go a long way towards ensuring that important institutions are truly autonomous and free of political influence.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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