Election Commissioner: On the independence of India’s top election body, the Supreme Court today pointed to a “hypothesis” for the central government: “Do you think the Election Commissioner…and he doesn’t get around to doing that: Does Wouldn’t this be a case of total system collapse?”
The court noted that the Election Commissioner is supposed to be “completely untouchable”, and noted how the government had talked about appointing a “man of character”. “Character consists of various components … One particular characteristic required is independence.”
It then pointed out how “one of the election commissioners actually resigned”, but did not name it, arguing its central point instead that the appointment system should be left to decide on names, rather than just the Union cabinet. “A large body” is required. It says, ‘There is a dire need for change.
It also said that “every government appoints a Yes Man” as the head of the election body, “irrespective of the party [in power].”
The government’s counsel submitted, “Distraction cannot be a ground for the intervention of the court. It is our endeavor to protect the status quo.”
The court insisted that it was not saying that the system was not correct. “There should be a transparent mechanism,” it said. The court also took exception to the Centre’s contention that appointments are “always based on seniority” and that the tenure is “at most 5 years”.
The Center argued that the appointment process has no role to play in how election commissioners can have different views on subsequent matters. Citing the enormity of the system, she argued, “the whole system does not allow that one can be evil.” It emphasized “freedom of the institution”, not just of the individual.
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