Appointment of ECs: SC refers to Constitution bench

The court passed its order on a PIL by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Anoop Baranwal.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a Constitution bench for an “authoritative pronouncement” on a plea for having a "fool proof and better" system for appointment of chief election commissioner and two election commissioners (ECs).

"We are of the view that the matter may require a closer look and interpretation of Article 324 (related to the role of the election commission) of the Constitution," a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.

The court passed its order on a PIL by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Anoop Baranwal.

Bhushan contended that a collegium must be put in place in order to ensure independent and transparent system for appointment of election commissioners, like it has been done in case of CBI director and the chief vigilance commissioner.

He said that the gaps in the law must be plugged to ensure independence of the institution.

"Till a law is passed, directions must be issued to ensure independence of the EC from government's interference," he said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Union government, however, said that so many eminent people like Sukumar Sen, T N Sheshan, J M Lyngdoh, S Y Quraishi and N Gopalaswami have been appointed to the election commission.

He said that the yardsticks used for appointment of judges in constitutional courts cannot be employed for appointment of ECs.

He cited examples of constitutional bodies like comptroller and auditor general of India, UPSC chairman, chairman finance commission and national commission for SC and STs, where the appointments were made by the government only.

According to convention, the senior most election commissioner is appointed as the chief election commissioner (CEC) by the President on a recommendation by the Union government.

The CEC can be removed from office through an impeachment motion like in the case of a Supreme Court judge.

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Appointment of ECs: SC refers to Constitution bench

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