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Panel headed by PM likely to appoint new ECs

Why is it in the news?

  • A panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to appoint new Election Commissioners by March 15 to fill the vacancies created by the resignation of Arun Goel and the retirement of Anup Chandra Pandey.

 

More about the news

  • Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar is currently the sole authority in charge of the Election Commission (EC) following the resignation of Election Commissioner Arun Goel.
  • Before finalizing the names, a search committee led by Law Minister will prepare a shortlist of five candidates for each post. The Election Commissioners will be appointed by the President under a new law passed in December.
  • However, the opposition parties have expressed concerns about the new selection process, fearing it may compromise the autonomy of the Election Commission, and have called for a prompt appointment of the new Commissioner.

 

SC on ECs

·       The Supreme Court has previously emphasized the importance of having multiple heads in institutions like the Election Commission, stating that “two heads are better than one” to ensure judiciousness and prevent arbitrariness.

·       In a judgment in 1991 (S.S. Dhanoa versus Union of India), the Supreme Court highlighted that vesting vast, exclusive, and uncontrolled powers in the hands of one individual goes against the principles of democratic rule.

·       However, in the T.N. Seshan case judgment, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court mentioned that the Election Commission could either be a single-member body or a multi-member body, with the discretion lying with the President.

·       Despite this, the Constitution Bench agreed with the notion that a multi-member Election Commission aligns with the plain language of Article 324, which vests the superintendence, direction, and control of elections in the Election Commission.

 

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