Source: 
Hindustan Times
https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/very-positive-and-progressive-adr-hails-sc-verdict-on-eci-appointments-101677833974146.html
Author: 
Saptarshi Das
Date: 
03.03.2023
City: 

The petitioners, who included Uttar Pradesh-based advocate Anoop Baranwal and the non-governmental organisation, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), argued that the current appointment process was not transparent

Taking away the executive’s sole discretion over Election Commission of India (ECI) appointments, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the constitution of a committee consisting Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha to decide on the appointment of ECI members.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph said this panel will be enforced until a law in this regard is made by Parliament.

The bench was hearing a batch of petitions seeking reform in the process for the appointment of members of the ECI. The petitioners, who included Uttar Pradesh-based advocate Anoop Baranwal and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), argued that the current appointment process was not transparent.>

The top court emphasised that the election commission is duty-bound to act in a “fair and legal manner” and to abide by the provisions of the Constitution.

ADR founding member and trustee Jagdeep Chhokar hailed the apex court’s judgement saying, “This is a very positive and progressive decision by the Supreme Court. It is hoped that this will restore the credibility of the election commission and will lead to the commission taking independent and non-partisan decisions in the future. Thereby, strengthening democratic functioning in the country,”

Through its petition, ADR had challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of appointment of election commissioners while asserting that such an appointment process done solely by the executive not only weakens the institutional apparatus but also poses a threat to “Democracy, Free and Fair elections and Rule of Law.”

The petition was filed by ADR before the Supreme Court on 17th May 2021, and notice was issued to the Union of India and the ECI on 5th September 2022.

ADR also requested to insulate the election commissioner from political and executive interference by constituting a neutral and independent collegium/selection committee to recommend the names for appointment on the vacant post of the members of the ECI.

The petition was heard by the apex court for three consecutive days on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of November last year. ADR argued, “superintendence, direction and control of elections vested in the election commission under Article 324 of the Constitution are paramount and, therefore, such responsibility should be free from any form of political interference.”

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