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Source: The post is based on the article “Supreme Court’s order on CEC selection panel” published in the Indian Express on 6th March 2023.
Syllabus: GS – 2 – Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Relevance: About the formation of a selection panel for Election Commissioners.
News: Recently, 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 neutral selection committee.
What is the Supreme Court ruling?
|Read here: President to appoint CEC, ECs on advise of committee comprising PM, LoP, CJI: Supreme Court|
What are the advantages of the formation of a selection panel?
|Read more: Supreme Court verdict will ensure a more independent Election Commission|
What are the challenges associated with the formation of a selection panel?
The presence of a Leader of Opposition: This will ensure a strong case for the Opposition to have a voice in the composition of an institution whose primary job is to conduct free and fair elections.
The presence of CJI: This will violate the constitutional system of checks and balances as it raises doubts regarding the presence of the court’s authority in the functioning of ECI.
Regarding the formation of the panel: The SC’s Basic Structure doctrine mandates the court to review and restrict Parliament’s powers to amend the Constitution’s foundational principles. But the SC verdict invites questions about the country’s highest court intruding outside its domain.
Other issues: a) The Court has prefaced its decision to set up the panel with a mention of the “unrelenting abuse of the electoral process over a period of time”. The Court has been very respectful of the EC’s powers in the past and there is little evidence for “unrelenting abuse”, b) The selection panel is similar to the appointment of the CBI director. But CBI’s record of prosecution doesn’t quite read like an exemplary testament of institutional autonomy. The same might be true for ECI also.
|Must read: Changes to the process of selecting election commissioner: Significance and challenges – Explained, pointwise|