The government is examining the Supreme Court’s verdict on the appointment of chief election commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners and it will take ”appropriate action” on it, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.
In a written reply, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said the Supreme Court in its judgment of March 2 held that until Parliament makes a law in consonance with Article 342(2) of the Constitution, the appointment of the CEC and election commissioners will be made on the recommendations made by a three-member committee comprising the prime minister, chief justice of India and leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, and in case no LoP is available then the leader of the single largest opposition party in LS.
”The judgement of Supreme Court is being examined by the government and appropriate action will be taken,” he said.
Rijiju pointed out that the Election Commission is a permanent constitutional body established in accordance with Article 324(1) of the Constitution of India. As per Article 324(2) of the Constitution, the Election Commission will consist of the CEC and such number of election commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix.
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The appointment of the CEC and other election commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made on that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President. The law minister said originally, the Commission was headed by the lone chief election commissioner. In order to ensure transparency in the working of the Commission and for conduct of free and fair elections in the country, the government of the day appointed two additional commissioners in October 1989, who continued only till January 1990. Later, on October 1, 1993, two election commissioners were appointed and the concept of present-day multi-member Commission is in vogue since then, he noted.
”No specific law has been made by Parliament as envisaged under Article 324 (2) of the Constitution of India for appointment of chief election commissioner and the election commissioners,” Rijiju said. According to Rule 8 of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, the appointment of the CEC and other election commissioners requires the approval of the prime minister and the President, he said. ”So far senior members of civil service and/or other serving or retired officers of the rank of secretary to the Government of India/chief secretary of the state governments are appointed as election commissioners, and the senior-most among the three election commissioners as chief election commissioner. ”The appointments to the posts of the CEC and election commissioners are in consonance with the constitutional values that uphold the integrity and credibility of the Commission,” Rijiju said.