Centre moves bill to exclude CJI from selection panel to appoint CEC, ECstext_fields
New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday pushed for a proposed law that will exclude the Chief Justice of India (CJI) from the three-member panel to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (ECs), months after a Supreme Court constitution bench revamped the selection mechanism for their appointments.
The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha today and is likely to trigger a fresh face-off between the executive and the judiciary.
It has been listed to regulate the appointment, conditions of service and term of office of the CEC and ECs. It will also set up a procedure for the transaction of business by the Election Commission.
The bill aims to replace the CJI with a cabinet minister nominated by the PM. It proposes that the CEC and other ECs shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a panel comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
The Selection Committee will be chaired by the Prime Minister, with the LoP and the Union Cabinet Minister appointed by the Prime Minister to be the members.
The Bill also proposes that the CEC and other ECs shall be appointed from among the persons who are holding or have held a post equivalent to the rank of Secretary to the Government of India and shall be persons of integrity, who have knowledge of and experience in management and conduct of elections.
It also proposes that a search committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary and comprising two other members not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, having knowledge and experience in matters relating to elections, shall prepare a panel of five persons for consideration of the Selection Committee, for appointment as the CEC and other ECs.
The bill says the term of the CECs and ECs remained unchanged at six years or until they reach the age of 65 or whichever is earlier.
“The salary of the CEC and ECs would be the same as the Cabinet Secretary. The appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall not be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in or any defect in the constitution of the Selection Committee,” says the bill.
The Bill, in effect, aims to dilute the Supreme Court's judgment in March 2023, in which a Constitution bench held that the appointment of CECs and ECs shall be done by the President on the advice of a panel comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the CJI until Parliament brings a law.