Centre opposes plea for same process for removal of CEC and ECs
Why in news?
The Centre has opposed a plea to make changes in the law to ensure that Election Commissioners are removed in the same manner as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
- In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in response to a PIL by BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay raising the demand, the government said the apex court had in the 1995 case of T N Seshan vs Union of India upheld the Constitutional provision which provides for different modes for removal of the CEC and the ECs.
- It also said that while the CEC was a permanent functionary whose appointment is mandated by Article 324 of the Constitution, ECs may or may not be appointed based on the needs of the Election Commission and that this was to be decided by the President.
- Stating that there was “no justification” for the demand to treat the ECs and CEC as equal on the question of removal, the government said that the commission was functioning smoothly and in an independent manner and there was no material placed on record to necessitate such an amendment.
- While the CEC can be removed only in the same manner as a judge, the ECs can be removed only on recommendation of the CEC. This ensures the independence of the other Election Commissioners too, it said.
- The government also opposed the demand for a separate secretariat for the commission on the lines of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha secretariat. The affidavit said comparing the Commission secretariat to that of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha secretariat or the Supreme Court “is not apposite”.
Election Commissioner of India
- Election Commissioners of India are members of Election Commission of India, a body constitutionally empowered to conduct free and fair elections to the national and state legislatures.
- The Election Commissioners are usually retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers.
- Until 1989, the commission was a single member body, but later two additional Election Commissioners were added. Thus, the Election Commission currently consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
Appointment and removal
- The Chief Election Commissioner of India can be removed from his office by the Parliament with a two-thirds majority in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
- Other Election Commissioners can be removed by the President of India on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
- A Chief Election Commissioner has never been impeached in India.
- in 2009, just before the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami sent a recommendation to President Prathibha Patil to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, who was soon to take office as the Chief Election Commissioner and to subsequently supervise the Lok Sabha Election, citing his partisan behavior in favor of one political party.
- The President opined that such a recommendation is not binding on the President, and hence rejected it. Subsequently, after Gopalswami’s retirement the next month, Chawla became the Chief Election Commissioner and supervised the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections.
Q.1 Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Election Commission
- The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications of the members of the Election Commission.
- The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
- The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
Choose the correct answer from the codes given below
- 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 2 only
- All of the above
Answer: d) all of the above