President to appoint CEC, ECs on advise of committee comprising PM, LoP, CJI: Supreme Court

Source: The post is based on the article “President to appoint CEC, ECs on advise of committee comprising PM, LoP, CJI: Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 3rd March 2023.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners(ECs) will be done by the President on the advice of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

What was the case about?

In 2015, a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the practice of the Centre appointing members of the Election Commission. 

In 2018, a two-judge bench of the SC referred the case to a larger bench since it would require a close examination of Article 324 of the Constitution which deals with the mandate of the Chief Election Commissioner.

How are CEC and ECs currently appointed?

The Constitution does not lay down a specific legislative process for the appointment of the CEC and ECs. The President makes the appointment on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.

What changes does SC’s decision bring in the process?

Appointment of Election Commissioners
Source: Hindustan Times

The Supreme Court has ruled that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners shall be made by the President on the advice of a Committee consisting of 1) Prime Minister, 2) Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha (leader of the largest opposition Party in the Lok Sabha) and 3) the Chief Justice of India.

This appointment process will be subject to any law to be made by Parliament. This means that Parliament can undo the effect of the SC verdict by bringing in a new law on the issue.

What are the other rulings of the court? 

On the issue of whether the process of removal of Election Commissioners must be the same as it is for the CEC: The court ruled that it cannot be the same. The Constitution states that the CEC can be removed in a process similar to a judge — through a majority in both houses of Parliament on grounds of proven incapacity or misbehaviour.

On the issue of funding the EC: The Supreme Court has left it to the government. They have said that they would only make an appeal to the government that there is an urgent need to provide for a permanent Secretariat for EC and also to provide that the expenditure be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.

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