Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill

Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill is set to be introduced in Rajya Sabha. This Bill isn’t just a bureaucratic reshuffle – it represents a comprehensive vision of electoral reform, replacing the Election Commission Act of 1991.

Role of the Selection Committee

Before the President’s final decision, the appointment of the CEC comes recommended by a pivotal body – the Selection Committee. This group’s guidance ensures that the choices made align with the democratic spirit and values. The Selection Committee is comprised of:

(a) The Prime Minister, serving as the Chairperson

(b) The Leader of Opposition from the House of the People as a member

(c) A Union Cabinet Minister, chosen by the Prime Minister

The Supreme Court’s Stance

Earlier, the Supreme Court, under the leadership of Justice KM Joseph, had ruled in favor of a selection committee for Election Commissioners. This committee would also comprise the Chief Justice of India, at least until Parliament brings a dedicated law into effect. Article 324(2) of the Constitution was particularly emphasized during this deliberation.

Criteria and Terms for Commissioners

A candidate for CEC or EC should have held a position equivalent to a Secretary, emphasizing the importance of experience in governance. Their tenure is stipulated at six years, but they must retire by the age of 65. However, the Bill ensures that these commissioners won’t be eligible for a second round, prohibiting re-appointment.

Salaries and perks for the ECs will now be at par with a Supreme Court judge, reflecting the role’s significance. But, on contentious issues, it’s the majority’s voice that will count, ensuring collaborative decision-making.

Resignation and Removal

The office’s integrity is protected through stringent rules for removing officeholders. The CEC’s removal procedure aligns with that of a Supreme Court judge, safeguarded by a rigorous two-thirds majority motion passed in both Houses of Parliament. In the unfortunate event of disputes, the CEC holds the authority to recommend the removal of an Election Commissioner. If circumstances demand resignation, the CEC and ECs can submit theirs to the highest office – the President.



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