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IndiaParliament gives nod to Bill on appointments of CEC, ECs

Parliament gives nod to Bill on appointments of CEC, ECs


NEW DELHI, Dec 21: The Parliament on Thursday gave its nod to a Bill which seeks to establish a mechanism to appoint the chief election commissioner and election commissioners with Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal asserting that it's in line with the Supreme Court's directions.

The Lok Sabha passed the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 by a voice vote after a brief discussion. The Rajya Sabha had cleared it on December 12.

Responding to the debate, Law Minister Meghwal said the 1991 Act on the service conditions of the CEC and ECs was a half-baked attempt that left out the key aspect of appointments and the present Bill covers such areas.

He also rejected suggestions that the proposed law was against the directions of the Supreme Court, which had asked the government to put in place a law on the appointments of the CEC and ECs.

He noted that the top court had said in March this year that till the time a law is in place, a three-member panel, headed by the prime minister and comprising the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of , will select the CEC and ECs.

Meghwal said the bill is in consonance with the SC ruling and not against it. He said the committee mentioned in the judgement was a “stop-gap” arrangement.

Before the SC ruling, the CEC and ECs were appointed by the President on the recommendation of the government.

Referring to points raised by some members during the course of the debate, the minister said as per the doctrine of separation of powers, appointments to the poll panel come under the domain of the Executive and the prime minister has to be a part of it.

The panel headed by the Prime Minister and comprising a Union Minister nominated by the prime minister and the leader of opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha will select members of the Election Commission.

In case there is no LoP in the Lower House, the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be deemed to be the LoP.

The selection panel will have the power to consider even those not shortlisted by the search committee.

A vacancy will arise in the poll panel when Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey demits office on February 14 next year. He will retire on attaining the age of 65 and days before the EC is likely to announce the schedule for the .

In 2014 and 2019, Lok Sabha polls were announced in March.

According to the amended Bill, the government has decided to retain the status of the CEC and ECs on par with judges of the Supreme Court.

According to the Bill, the CEC and ECs will be paid a salary equal to that of a Supreme Court judge.

A new clause has been inserted in the amended bill to protect the CEC and ECs from court cases while discharging their official duties.

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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