CEC’s, EC’s interaction with the PMO-Why this raises questions and breaches a red line

News: Recently, a letter written by the Law Ministry to the Election Commission (EC) on November 15, has come under criticism.

The letter states that the Principal Secretary to PM ‘expects‘ the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) to be present during a discussion.  

Why this is a cause of concern?

Compromises the independent image of the EC: The Election Commission is a Constitutional authority whose functioning is insulated from the Executive. Attending meetings or discussions called by officers of the government compromises the independence of the commission in the public eye.

The tone of the letter also raises questions because as per protocol, an officer of the government, no matter how senior, cannot call the CEC for a discussion.

What are the Supreme Court’s views on Election Commission’s independence?

The independence of the Commission from the executive has been reiterated by the top court in its 1995 judgment in the TN Seshan v Union of India and Ors, wherein it observed that:

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 insulated from the party in power or executive of the day. This objective is achieved by the setting up of an Election Commission, a permanent body, under Article 324 (1) of the Constitution.

Must Read: Independence of EC is reducing – Explained, pointwise

Source– This post is based on the article “CEC’s, EC’s interaction with the PMO-Why this raises questions and breaches a red line” published in Indian express on 17th Dec 2021. 

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