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Judiciary

Supreme Court refuses stay law on appointment of CEC and ECs

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      12 January, 2024 02:12 PM      0 Comments
SC refuses stay law on appointment of CEC and ECs

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to a plea by a Congress leader and others to stay the law on appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners, which replaced the Chief Justice of India by a Minister in a committee to be set up for picking up poll panel.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, however, issued notice to the Centre and scheduled the matter for hearing in April, 2024.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh for the petitioner insisted for stay on the law.

"We can't stay the statute like this," the bench said.

Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jaya Thakur and advocate Gopal Singh questioned validity of the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Terms of Office) Act, 2023.

Thakur sought a direction for declaring the provisions of the 2023 law as ultra vires under Articles 14, 21, 50 and 324 of the Constitution inasmuch as these are violative of the principles of free and fair election, apart from being contrary to the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of 'Anoop Baranwal Versus Union of India'.

The Law and Justice Ministry notified the new Act on December 28, 2023.

The Supreme Court's Constitution bench had on March 2, 2023 ruled that the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners would be made by the President on advice of a panel, comprising Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India until a law is put in place in this regard.

Thakur claimed the practice of appointing the member to the Election Commission without following a fair, just and transparent process of selection by constituting an independent and neutral collegiums/selection committee to recommend the name and without making a law for the same as obligated in Article 324(2) of Constitution, is discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

She said for ensuring purity of the election process, it was thought by our Constitution makers that the responsibility to hold free and fair election in the country should be entrusted to an independent body which would be insulted from political executive interference.

"It is inherent in a democratic set up that the agency which is entrusted the task of holding elections to the legislatures should be fully insulted so that it can function as an independent agency free from external pressures from the party in power or executive of the day. This objective is achieved by setting up of an election Commission, a permanent body, under Art 324 (1) of the Constitution," it said.

Advocate Singh asked the SC to give directions to issue appropriate order to the Union government to include the Chief Justice of India in the selection committee for the appointment of the CEC and ECs which currently comprises of the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
 



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