SC to hear plea to include CJI on EC selection panel

SC to hear plea to include CJI on EC selection panel


The Supreme Court has agreed to urgently hear a plea regarding the appointment of Election Commissioners in the Election Commission of India (ECI) following the unexpected resignation of Arun Goel ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Key Provisions of the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023:

  • Replacement of Previous Act: The legislation supersedes the 1991 Election Commission Act, concentrating on the appointment, pay, and termination of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs).
  • Appointment Process:
    • The President appoints the CEC and ECs upon the Selection Committee’s recommendation.
    • The Committee includes the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition or the largest opposition party’s leader in the Lok Sabha.
    • Recommendations remain valid during committee vacancies.
    • A Search Committee, led by the Cabinet Secretary, proposes candidates.
    • Eligibility requires experience equivalent to a central government Secretary.
  • Salary and Conditions: The CEC and ECs will now receive remuneration and service conditions comparable to the Cabinet Secretary, contrasting with the prior alignment with a Supreme Court Judge’s salary.
  • Removal Process:
    • The law maintains Article 324(5), permitting the CEC’s removal akin to a Supreme Court Judge.
    • ECs can only be removed with the CEC’s recommendation.
  • Protection for CEC and ECs: The legislation shields the CEC and ECs from legal actions related to their official duties during their tenure, safeguarding them from civil or criminal proceedings.
  • Aim of Amendment: The amendment aims to safeguard these officials from legal repercussions tied to their official functions, ensuring their effectiveness and independence.

About ECI:

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) functions as an independent constitutional body tasked with overseeing both Union and State election processes throughout India.
  • Established on January 25, 1950 (observed as National Voters’ Day), it operates from its headquarters in New Delhi.
  • It is responsible for managing elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, as well as the offices of the President and Vice President.
  • The ECI does not handle elections for panchayats and municipalities. Instead, the Constitution mandates the existence of distinct State Election Commissions for this purpose.

Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners:

  • Part XV (Elections) of the Constitution encompasses five Articles (324-329), outlining the electoral process.
  • The Constitution doesn’t specify a legislative procedure for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs).
  • Article 324 grants the authority of “superintendence, direction and control of elections” to the Election Commission, comprising the CEC and other ECs appointed by the President.
  • Appointment Process:
    • The President appoints the CEC and ECs based on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister.
    • The Law Minister presents a list of qualified candidates to the Prime Minister for evaluation. Subsequently, the President makes the appointment following the Prime Minister’s advice.
  • Removal Mechanism:
    • CEC and ECs hold the authority to resign at their discretion or can be removed before the completion of their term.
    • The removal process for the CEC mirrors that of a Supreme Court judge and requires parliamentary action.
    • An EC, other than the CEC, can only be removed upon the recommendation of the CEC.