“Need Election Commissioner Who Can Take Action Even Against PM,” Says Supreme Court, Directs Centre To Produce Documents Of New CEC’s Appointment

SC Supreme Court Dalit

The Apex Court on Wednesday remarked that the Chief Election Commisioner (CEC) need to be able to take on even the Prime Minister. Questioning the opaque system of CEC appointment, the Supreme Court directed centre to show the mechanism adopted in the appointment of an Election Commissioner (EC) last week.

The five-juges top court bench, headed by Justice KM Joseph, said: “We need a CEC who can even take action against a PM.”

“Suppose for example, there is some allegation against the Prime Minister and the CEC has to act, but the the latter is weak-kneed and does not act,” the bench said, adding that it would be a complete breakdown of the system.

The bench stressed that the CEC is supposed to be insulated from political influence and should be independent.

“These are the aspect the centre’s counsel must delve into why we require an independent larger body for selection and not just Cabinet,” the court said.

In strong remarks, the bench observed that committees say dire need for changes, and politicians also shout from rooftop but nothing happens.

The supreme court asked the centre, represented by Attorney General R. Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, to show the mechanism adopted in the appointment of the Election Commissioner.

Arun Goel, a former bureaucrat assumed the office of Election Commissioner on November 20, a day after his appointment to head the top poll body on November 19. After Sushil Chandra’s retirement as CEC in May this year, the post was lying vacant.

Explaining the protocol followed in appointment of the CEC, the AG told the court that all senior bureaucrats and officers at the state and the central government are taken into consideration while appointment and this is scrupulously followed.

The appointment is done on the basis of convention and there is no separate appointment procedure of CEC, the AG said, adding that one is appointed as EC and then on the basis of seniority a CEC.

“There should be a transparent mechanism in the appointment of the EC, and the mechanism should be such that people should not question it,” Justice Rastogi observed, telling centre that “you just appointed someone as EC 2 days ago… It should be fresh in memory. Show us (the mechanism applied in the appointment)”.

The AG, intervening in the matter, responded: “So are we saying that there is no confidence in the Council of Ministers?”

“No we are saying for our satisfaction show us the mechanism you adopted in the appointment two days ago,” Justice Rastogi said.

The SC also questioned why the post of EC and CEC are confined only to civil servants.



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