Context: Supreme Court judge Jus tice K.M. Joseph on Mon day recused from hearing a petition challenging the appointment of Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner.
Election commissioners to be appointed by a committee
SC In Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India, Constitution Bench of Supreme Court has held that Election Commissioners (ECs) including the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) will be appointed by the President on the advice of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the CJI till a specific law is framed by the Parliament. However, if the Leader of Opposition (LoP) has not been recognised by the Speaker, then the Leader of the largest Party in the Opposition in the Lok Sabha having the largest numerical strength will be in the committee to appoint the ECs and CEC.
Conduct of elections – article 324(1)
Election Commission shall be responsible for Superintendence, Direction and Control of the preparation of the Electoral Rolls for and the conduct of all elections to –
- Legislature of every State
- Offices of President and Vice-President
- Law Can be Made for Appointments – The appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President.
Constitution of election commission – article 324(2)
- The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time-to-time fix. ∙ When any other Election Commissioner is so appointed the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission.
Appointment of election commissioners – article 324(2)
- Appointment of Election Commissioners – the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President.
|It is here where the Supreme Court’s judgment will have an impact. This is because the President has to go according to the advice tendered by the Committee comprising PM, LoP & CJI. This in a way takes away power from the central government to appoint ECs or CEC as per their choice.|
∙ Appointment of Regional Commissioners – The President may also appoint after consultation with the Election Commission such Regional Commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the Election Commission in the performance of its functions.
Removal- article 324(5)
- The CEC shall be removed from his office in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
- Conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
- Any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
- Thus, the process of removal of CEC and other Election or Regional Commissioners is different as provided in the Constitution.
|The Constitution Bench has asked to ensure parity for other Election Commissioners and suggested that Removal of Other Election Commissioners to be same as that of CEC.|
The Election Commission (conditions of service of election commissioners and transaction of business) act, 1991
The Act determines the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners and also provides for the procedure for transaction of business by the Election Commission.
Term of office
- The Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner shall hold office for a term of six years from the date on which he assumes his office.
- Provided that where the Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner attains the age of sixty five years before the expiry of the said term of six years, he shall vacate his office on the date on which he attains the said age.
- Provided further that the Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner may, at any time, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.