The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023
Recently, the “Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Tenure) Bill, 2023” has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the Union Law Minister.
The Election Commission is a three-member body, consisting of a Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and 2 other Election Commissioners (EC).
It may be noted that in March 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner, and other election commissioners, would be made by a selection panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.
The Supreme Court’s order underlined that its guidelines would remain in force until Parliament enacted a law in accordance with Article 324(2) of the Constitution.
It may be noted that till this decision of the Supreme Court, the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners were appointed by the President after the recommendations of the government.
Provisions in the new bill:
- Selection Committee: A selection committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister will appoint the CEC and other ECs. When the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha is not recognized by the Lok Sabha, the leader of the largest opposition party shall be deemed to be the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
- Search Committee: A Search Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary will prepare a panel of five persons who may be considered for appointment by the Selection Committee. The Search Committee shall consist of two other members not below the rank of Secretary to the Government having knowledge and experience in matters relating to elections.
- At present, the Law Minister sends some names to the Prime Minister. The President then appoints the CEC and other ECs on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- Eligibility: Persons holding or holding posts equivalent to the rank of Secretary to the Central Government shall be eligible for appointment to the post of CEC and other ECs.
- Pay and Allowances: The pay, allowances and other service conditions of the CEC and other ECs will be the same as those of the Cabinet Secretary. Earlier, as per the 1991 Act, his salary was equal to that of a Supreme Court judge.
Source – PRS India