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Lok Sabha passes Bill to appoint CEC, EC; enjoins panel sans CJI

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      21 December, 2023 07:26 PM      0 Comments
Lok Sabha passes Bill to appoint CEC EC enjoins panel sans CJI

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a Bill to establish a new mechanism for appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CECs) and Election Commissioners (ECs). The Bill has already been passed by Rajya Sabha on December 12.

This Bill has been criticised for being directly in conflict with the Supreme Court's direction that the EC should be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in March, this year had unanimously ruled that a high-power committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India must pick the CEC and ECs.

However, the court had then also said that this norm will continue to hold good till a law is made by the Parliament.

Apparently, the Supreme Court's judgement till the law is passed.

The Centre has deftly used this leeway in the apex court’s judgment and brought a law with the view of overturning the effect of the court’s verdict on the appointment of the CEC and ECs.

The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 stated the CEC and other ECs shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of— (a) the Prime Minister—chairperson; (b) the leader of opposition in the House of the people—member; (c) a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister—member.

In its March 2, 2023 judgement, the SC said, “We declare that as far as appointment to the posts of Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners are concerned, the same shall be done by the President of India on the basis of the advice tendered by a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister of India, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and, in case, there is no such Leader, the Leader of the largest Party in the Opposition in the Lok Sabha having the largest numerical strength, and the Chief Justice of India”.

The court had also said, “This norm will continue to hold good till a law is made by the Parliament”.

In 2015, a PIL filed in SC challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of the Centre-appointed members of the Election Commission. A two-judge bench of the apex court in 2018, had referred the case to a larger bench since it required a close examination of Article 324 of the Constitution, which deals with the role of a CEC.

In its judgment, the SC had said, “The Founding Fathers clearly contemplated a law by Parliament and did not intend the executive exclusively calling the shots in the matter of appointments to the Election Commission”.

The Parliament has the power to nullify the court's verdict by addressing the concerns flagged in the judgement. 
 



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