|Introduction: Contextual introduction.|
Body: Explain significance ofSupreme Court-induced changes to the process of the cc appointment. Also write some challenges.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.
Recently, a five-member constitution bench directs that selection of the CEC and other members of the Commission should be made by a panel comprising the PM, the leader of the opposition (LoP) and CJI, altogether welcome. The constitution bench has said that the scheme it has prescribed would continue, till Parliament passes a law on the subject.
Significance of these changes:
- By directing the Election Commission to be appointed by a non-partisan panel, the Supreme Court strengthens democracy. An independent committee will correct the existing method of selection and add sanctity to the process.
- As the executive enjoyed the benefit of appointing people as chosen by it as the CEC and ECs, this led to perceptions of bias of the Commission in favour of the ruling party.
- A vulnerable Election Commission would result in an insidious situation and detract from its efficient functioning.
- The SC’s verdict, apart from ensuring fairness in the process, can act as a constitutional lesson in India’s troubled times. It found that in India, there is “an unrelenting abuse of the electoral process”.
- The judgment recognises the fine distinction between conventional democracy and constitutional democracy.
- A non-executive should not be made part of the commission’s selection process, including the Chief Justice of India as it would amount to judicial overreach and violation of separation of power.
- Formal appointments processes are no predictors of performanceor bulwarks against the underlying distribution of political power. E.g. the Supreme Court.
- Politicians and administrators have wide social and institutional experiencethan judges.
- The structures of accountability matter morethan the process of selection. For instance, many ex-post heroes like T N Seshan, would have been disqualified on their prior reputations for political intrigue.
- It should respect the independence of the executiveby not encroaching upon its domain.
- The posts of ECs and the CEC are Constitutionaland any change in the appointment process can be done only by the Parliament.
Elections are the cornerstone of democracy, and the Election commissioners are crucial to that legitimacy. Therefore, to defend its functional independence, the guardian of elections itself urgently needs structural safeguards.