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Appointment of Election Commission

Appointment Of Election Commission

Recently, the Supreme Court of India unanimously ruled that a high bench committee headed by the prime minister, the chief justice of India, and the leader of the opposition, if there is no such leader, then the leader of the largest single party in Loksabha, is going to appoint the chief election commissioner and election commissioners. Before this appointment, the election commission is total under the centre government's prerogative.

In the year 2015, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court by Anoop Baranwal regarding the Constitutional validity of center-appointed EC and CEC, and later in the month of September last year, a five-judge Constitutional bench was setup, headed by Justice KM Joseph. The Election Commission is a Constitutionally autonomous body used to administer elections in the country so that free and fair elections can be held.

This judgement is very significant because it seeks to change the Indian election commissioner's appointment, which has far-reaching implications. It is also an important judgement because India is going to face its 18th general election next year.

According to Article 324 of Indian Constitution:

  1. The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under this Constitution shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the Election Commission).
  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 and 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.
  3. When any other Election Commissioner is so appointed the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission.
  4. Before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each State, and before the first general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council of each State having such Council, 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 the functions conferred on the Commission by clause (1).
  5. Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioners and the Regional Commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine: Provided that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment: Provided further that any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
  6. The President, or the Governor of a State, shall, when so requested by the Election Commission, make available to the Election Commission or to a Regional Commissioner such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the Election Commission by clause (1).

Development in election commission

We can trace the roots of India's democratic system back to antiquity - to the Sabhas and Samitis referred to in the Rig Veda in the second millennium BC. However, while this ancient legacy has been utilised to impart an indigenous legitimacy to the representative institutions of modern India.

Election commission was setup by Constitution assembly in year 1950 with only election commissioner as position but in year 1989 a notification issued by president for changing the composition and made in three member Constitution body but president rescinded from their earlier decision and then made it single member body once again but in case S.S Dhanoa vs union of India Constitution validity of case was challenged before a court in which court given their judgement in favour of president under Article 324 (2) and 324 (4) both the notification were Constitutionally valid.

After this judgement legislature comes with a chief election commissioner and other election commissioner ( condition of service ) Act 1991. The Chief Election Commissioner and the other Election Commissioners shall hold office for a term of six years in accordance with this Act. Also, it was stated that the Chief Election Commissioner and any other Election Commissioners must resign from their positions whenever they turn 65 before the end of their six-year terms. According to Article 124, the removal procedure for the Election Commissioner is the same as for a Supreme Court judge.

They are paid the same as judges of the Supreme Court. The President must be notified in writing of the resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner and all other Election Commissioners. In year 1993 T.N Seshan who was that time election commissioner was not happy with this appointment and moved supreme court in case T.N Seshan vs union of India 1995 court decide It is not against the provision of article 324 of Indian Constitution.

For more than 50 years, the Electoral Commission has overseen and upheld the integrity of all national elections. It has been essential in keeping the nation's democratic nature untarnished. In order to preserve the voters' right to free and fair elections, it has up until this point shielded a number of elections from the influence of shady political parties and figures. It is clear that Article 324 has been crucial in assisting the Election Commission in carrying out its responsibilities free from outside interference.

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