Opinion: Constitutional heads’ selection should be bipartisan
In a democratic set up like India, constitutional offices such as CAG, CEC, CIC plays a major role in mediating between citizens and policies of government. In contemporary times, with weak leadership and coalition politics, policy making has becomes a hostage of regional parties and favour based strategy. Thus the role and responsibilities of these constitutional bodies have become more demanding and even they have done commendable job in fullest of their capabilities to perform and achieve under vested powers as is evident in very recent elections under election commission, revealing scams under CAG to quote a few. However, well functioning constitutional offices are not also free from controversies due to the kinds of appointments made to these institutions with so called open ended criteria instead of merit. Majority of such constitutional offices are held by persons appointed by president under advice of Prime minister.
There is no legal and technical definition of being an Expert in the field, having sufficient knowledge or experience and of being a renowned personality in the criteria as specified for selection. Whoever is appointed to the post can later be dubbed and pointed out as being an expert or being renowned under political importance.
There is no way to put a check on it as dictated in constitution under President’s node. It is reality that if under political monopoly a wrong person is put under the post, the real sufferer would be the masses who would not get much from these extremely important public posts where the incumbent is there only to enjoy the privileges and perks and to feel politically and socially important. Hence a more legal/technical procedure can not eliminate for such posts.
This arrangement also flaws the transparent functioning of governance. These officials are more based on individual or group selection less on merit. Choosing them based on a criterion in largely unknown circumstances reflects an increasing democratic deficit, weakens democratic accountability and lacks a potential check on abuse, corruption or incompetence.
Public accountability is also weak in institutional and procedural openness on these selection criteria as it entirely based on ruling party at centre not on merit.
For political favour, there is always high degree of being biased in decision making while exercising their powers. This in turn will lead to trust deficit among citizens destroying the repute for the very basic bedrocks of democratic institutions.
Appointment is to be made with broader consensus with collegiums system consisting of both political and non-political leadership.
Ruling party always may have their own intentions and purpose for selecting a person in such posts and as there is no way to put a check on this process, with current appointment procedure it is very difficult to trace or track such manipulation.
With rising corruption and irregularities, this position are too important to be more neutral and accountable rather than being unilaterally decided by the Government in power. Democracy stands by safeguards and measures for more accountable and justified system of governance and important constitutional pillars like these should not be under scanner in citizen’s eyes as well international forum. A collegiums system as advised by L.K.Advani comprising the PM, Union minister for law and justice, the chief justice of India and leaders of the opposition in both Houses of Parliament will definitely serve better to purpose of integrity and spirit of justification. The bedrock offices of constitution need a broad based selection mechanism to make it more inclusive as well as wider political and consensual.