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Glaring omission

  • Published
    14th Aug, 2023

Context

The government tabled the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointments, Conditions of Service, Term of Office) Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Features of the bill

  • Appointment Committee- A Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha says the committee will consist of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and a Union Cabinet Minister.
  • Search Committee- It proposes a search committee, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, with two other members not below the rank of secretary to prepare a panel of five members for the consideration of the Selection Committee.
  • Qualification- CEC and other ECs will be appointed from “amongst persons who are holding or have held a post equivalent to the rank of secretary and who have knowledge of and experience in the management and conduct of elections”.

Misgivings of The Election Commission

  • Delayed result- In the run­up to the 2019 general election, the announcement of elections was delayed for a month between February and March, allowing the government to inaugurate many projects.
  • Model Code of Conduct-The Model Code of Conduct was unevenly implemented, with the ruling party receiving favourable treatment by the ECI, leading to dissent by one of the commissioners.
  • Question on Autonomy- The independent V­Dem Institute in Sweden, which compares democracies worldwide, has downgraded India to an “electoral autocracy”, citing the loss in autonomy of the ECI.

Way Ahead

  • Inclusion of a Judicial member - The appointment committee should include the chief justice of India as recommended by the SC and various committees to ensure transparency.
  • Unanimous verdict - The collegium system will be all the more credible if a unanimous verdict is added as a precondition to the appointment.
  • Consultation - All the organs of the government should be consulted to make the election body like shining armour.
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