Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)

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Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)

  • Recently, the Supreme Court has questioned the government on the method of choosing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
  • The Supreme Court has asked the central government why no law has yet been enacted to regulate the appointment of CECs and Election Commissioners (ECs).

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Part XV of the Indian Constitution deals with elections and provides for the establishment of the Election Commission of India.
  • Articles 324-329 contained in the Constitution contain provisions relating to the powers, functions, tenure, eligibility etc. of the Commission and its members.

Statutory Provisions:

  • Originally the Commission had only one Election Commissioner, but after the enactment of the Election Commissioners Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
  • The Commission consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. Under Article 324(2) of the Constitution, the President appoints the CEC and ECs.
  • The President, who acts on the aid and advice of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, shall make such appointments subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament in this behalf.

Issues related to appointment of CEC

  • Role of the executive in appointment: The appointment of the CEC is entirely done by the executive. Thus, this arrangement gives complete discretion to the ruling party to choose any person whose loyalty to that party is assured.
  • While the Election Commission also discharges a quasi-judicial role between the ruling party and other parties. In this scenario, the executive should not be the sole participant in the appointment of Election Commissioners.
  • Qualification not prescribed: The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • Earlier, the Law Commission suggested that the CEC should be appointed by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition (LoP).
  • A similar committee also appoints the Director or the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).
  • However, many experts have suggested that such a committee should not include the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, as they have vested interests in the post.

Recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission Report:

  • It has recommended that there should be a collegium headed by the Prime Minister to make recommendations to the President for the appointment of members of the Election Commission of India.
  • The Anoop Baranwal vs Union of India (2015) case also emphasized the demand for a collegium system for the Election Commission.
  • Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had also taken note of the fact that Election Commissioners superintend and conduct elections across the country and their selection should be done in the most transparent manner.

Source – The Hindu

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