Synopsis – The Supreme Court in its recent judgment ruled that government officials cannot be appointed as State Election Commissioner (SEC).
- 25 years have passed since local governance was introduced in India by the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendments. However, there is very little and actual progress in this direction.
- There is inadequate devolution of powers to the third tier of governance.
- The SEC is responsible for holding unbiased elections for local bodies in the state. But local elections often suffer from abuse, charges of ward fixing, and ward reservation.
What is the case?
- The government notification on municipality elections in Goa was initially challenged in the Bombay HC. Allegedly, the reservation of wards for women, SCs, and STs was not in accordance with the law.
- The Bombay HC struck down the reservation notices of specific wards. It ruled that they caused constitutional infractions.
- Then the Goa government approached the SC, challenging this order.
- However, the SC upheld the Bombay HC’s ruling. SC said that the appointment of the law secretary as the poll body head is against the independence of the election.
The Supreme Court ruling
- Entrusting additional charge of State Election Commissioner to a government official is a mockery of the Constitution.
- Under Article 142 the SC directed all SECs who currently hold an additional charge, to step down immediately. It stated that a government employee or bureaucrat cannot be appointed as Election Commissioner.
- The SC ruling will help secure the independence of SECs in the future.
- The independence of the Election Commission cannot be compromised in a democracy.
- Centre should work on the devolution of powers to the local level of governance. It ensures that decisions are made closer to the local people, communities, and businesses.
Source- The Hindu