Historic decision

In a landmark verdict aimed at insulating the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners (EC) from the executive’s interference, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that their appointments will be done by the president on the advice of a committee comprising the prime minister, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the chief justice of India. A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice KM Joseph, in a unanimous verdict held that this norm will continue to hold good till a law on the issue is made by Parliament. This is a historic decision and, if implemented, will definitely help to strengthen the Indian democracy.

In recent years the appointment of election commissioners (EC) and chief election commissioner (CEC) have come under scrutiny of the public as well as the SC. Last year, the top court had questioned the “haste” and “tearing hurry” with which the Centre had appointed ex-bureaucrat Arun Goel as an election commissioner. The opposition political parties have also repeatedly raised concern over the way the election commissioners are being appointed. On several occasions they alleged that the EC scheduled election dates in such a manner that it benefitted the ruling party and hurt the prospects of the opposition parties. The judgment of the SC should be implemented in letter and spirit. No attempt should be made by the ruling party to dilute its content.