The Supreme Court is right in raising concern over the manner of appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners. While directing the Centre to produce the file relating to the appointment of former IAS officer Arun Goel as the CEC, a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court made a crucial proposal to include the chief justice of India in the committee that appoints the poll panel chief.
This is a path-breaking proposal and the SC should take every step to ensure that this proposal is accepted by the government of India. It will help to establish credibility in the selection of the committee that appoints the CEC. Such broad-based arrangement will help in ensuring neutrality in the decisions of the institution and also in choosing a person who “does not allow himself to be bulldozed.” The main concern behind the SC’s suggestion is that the poll panel must be insulated against political pressure. The court has rightly pointed out that the CECs, of late, got truncated tenures while the Constitution mandates that they hold office for a period of six years.
There are growing concerns over the partisanship of the EC in recent years. Several decisions of the commission came under scrutiny. An important constitutional exercise, such as appointing the CEC and his or her subordinates, should not be left to the whims and fancies of the executive. The arbitrary selection process, which is eroding the sanctity of these constitutional posts, must be discontinued as it poses a grave threat to India’s democratic setup.