Impartiality in picking ECI members, a perennial demand


Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Several reform committees and the Law Commission recommended in the past that there is a need for more impartiality in the appointment of members of the Election Commission of India.The matter regains importance following a petition in the Supreme Court seeking an independent committee to appoint members of the poll panel. Eight-phase Assembly polls in Bengal amid appeals to club the last two or three together, which went in vain, makes this matter releavnt again.

In 1975, the Justice Tarkunde Committee (appointed by ‘Citizens for Democracy’ on the suggestion of Sri Jayaprakash Narayan) recommended that the members of ECI should be appointed by the President on the advice of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

The Committee on Electoral Reforms, under the chairmanship of Law Minister Dinesh Goswami, appointed by the Central Government, made several recommendations on electoral reforms in 1990. The Goswami Committee recommended effective consultation with neutral authorities like Chief Justice of India and Leader of the Opposition for appointments in the ECI.

This committee said that the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner should be made by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and Leader of the Opposition (in case no Leader of the Opposition is available, leader of the largest opposition group in Lok Sabha should be consulted).

It also said the consultation process should have a statutory backing and appointment of the other two Election Commissioners should be made in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, Leader of the Opposition (in case the Leader of the opposition is not available, the consultation should be with the leader of the largest opposition group in the Lok Sabha) and the Chief Election Commissioner.The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in its fourth report in January, 2007, recommended a neutral and independent body to recommend names for the ECI.

Plea in SC seeking ECI appointment revision
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) moved Supreme Court on Monday, seeking an independent selection committee to appoint mem-bers of the Election Commission of India (ECI). Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing ADR, said the present process of appointment by the executive is incompatible with the Constitution. “To ensure the purity of the election process it was thought that the responsibility to hold free and fair elections should be entrusted to an independent body insulated from political and/or executive interference.”

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