What does newly passed Bill on appointment of top three election officials say? | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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What does newly passed Bill on appointment of top three election officials say?

Dec 21, 2023 08:06 PM IST

The new Bill specifies that the President will appoint Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners based on Selection Committee's recommendation.

Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a Bill aimed at establishing a new process for appointing Chief Election Commissioners (CEC) and two Election Commissioners (ECs). Previously, the Rajya Sabha had given its nod to this Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service, and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 on December 12. With both Houses' approval, the legislation has now passed through Parliament and awaits the President's assent.

Proceedings of Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI)
Proceedings of Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI)

Introduced in the Upper House during the monsoon session's final days on August 10, the bill underwent amendments and was presented on December 12 in the Parliament. Union law minister Arjun Meghwal highlighted that this legislation was prompted by a Supreme Court ruling.

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Article 324(2) of the Constitution empowers the President to appoint the CEC and ECs. This rule specifies that the President, acting upon the advice of the prime minister and the council of ministers, will make the appointments considering “provisions of any law made on that behalf by Parliament”.

What does the new legislation say?

The new legislation that replaces the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991, introduces a significant change, replacing the Chief Justice with a Union Minister in the appointment process.

The Bill outlines various aspects including appointment procedures, qualifications, the establishment of Search and Selection Committees, term durations, salaries, resignation, removal, leave, and pension arrangements for the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners.

According to the Union law minister the existing legislation lacks specific provisions related to qualifications, a search committee responsible for assembling a group of candidates, and the subsequent recommendation process by the Selection Committee for appointing the CEC and election commissioners.

The new Bill specifies that the President will appoint the CEC and ECs based on the Selection Committee's recommendation. This Committee will comprise the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and either the Leader of the Opposition or the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

Supreme Court's ruling

In March this year, the Supreme Court ruled that election commissioners should be appointed based on recommendations from a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India. This landmark decision aimed “to safeguard the top election body from political influence”. However, the court specified that this ruling will remain effective until the government introduces legislation.

Meghwal emphasised that this judgment acknowledged the validity of the norm established by the Supreme Court until Parliament creates a corresponding law. “We are introducing this legislation to fulfill that purpose,” he mentioned.

(With inputs from agencies)

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