[Answered] Should the judiciary be included in the selection process of Election commissioners? Give reasons for your argument.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain why the judiciary should be included in the selection process. Also write arguments against this.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Article 324 envisaged that the Election Commission be led by a single CEC (Chief Election Commissioner), though the President can appoint more commissioners. Recently, the Supreme Court mooted the idea of including the Chief Justice of India in the appointment committee of CEC to ensure “neutrality”.

Why the judiciary should be included in the selection process?

  • Various committees likeJustice Tarkunde Committee (1975), Dinesh Goswami committee (1990), Law Commission(2015) have recommended that Election Commissioners be appointed on the advice of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Opposition Leader and the Chief Justice of India.
  • The successive governments have “completely destroyed” the independence of ECI by ensuring no CEC gets the full six-year term since 1996. CJI’s presence can usher in impartiality to a selection process.
  • Parliament made no law to regulate the appointment of Election Commissioners for the last 70 years, as envisaged in Article 324 (2).
  • The present system of government appointing CEC and ECs does not ensure independence of the election commission.

Concerns:

  • Formal appointments processes are no predictors of performance or bulwarks against the underlying distribution of political power. E.g. the Supreme Court.
  • Politicians and administrators have wide social and institutional experience than judges.
  • The structures of accountability matter more than 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 executive by not encroaching upon its domain.
  • 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.
  • The posts of ECs and the CEC are Constitutional and 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.

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