Selection of ECs must be transparent, SC tells Centre
The Supreme Court advised the Centre that Election Commissioners (ECs) should be selected through the most transparent and just process, formalized through a law of the parliament. Though the election commissioners appointed so far has been outstanding people, fair and politically neutral.
The court advocated the enactment of a legislation to fill the existing statutory void. Even the process of selection of the CBI director is formalized by law but not that of the Election commissioner.
A PIL filled in the court has contended that successive governments have failed in the constitutional obligation to set up a fair transparent and just process for the selection of the Election commissioners.
Concerns raised by the Supreme court:
- Lack of a parliamentary law which clearly spells out the process of appointment of an election commissioner creates a gap in the process.
- Specific questions that are raised,
- Who should be shortlisted?
- Who shortlists these names?
- What is the eligibility?
- The court asked the government whether it should intervene on the issue to achieve the constitutional objective under Article 324(2)
- Article 324(2): The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix and the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President.
Governments stand on the issue:
- Solicitor general submitted that the Chief election commissioner and Election commissioners are appointed by the President, who acts on the aid and advice of the Prime minister and his cabinet
- The parliament is empowered to decide whether there should be a law, which spells out the process of appointment of Election commissioners. Till now the parliament has not formulated a law in this regard
- If the parliament feels necessary it will provide the process with a statutory backing, but lack of a statutory backing does provide courts with a ground to step in