Several opposition leaders dubbed the bill on the appointment and service conditions of the chief election commissioner and election commissioners as “anti-Constitution” and “anti-democratic”, sources said.
The bill seeks to replace the Chief Justice of India with a cabinet minister in the panel for selection of the chief election commissioner and election commissioners, in a move that will allow the government to have more control in the appointment of members of the poll panel.
The bill comes months after the Supreme Court in March ruled that a three-member panel, headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India, will select the CEC and ECs till a law is framed by Parliament on the appointment of these commissioners.
According to the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, tabled by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in the Rajya Sabha in August, a three-member Selection Committee comprising the Prime Minister, who will be the chairperson, the LoP and a Union Cabinet minister, who would be nominated by the Prime Minister, shall select the CEC and ECs.
The bill was introduced amid an uproar by the opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, AAP and Left parties, that accused the government of “diluting and overturning” a Supreme Court Constitution bench order.
The BJP, however, said the government is well within its right to bring the bill.
“Read the Supreme Court judgment. It had suggested a transient method for appointment of the CEC in absence of a statutory mechanism. The government is well within its right to bring in a bill for the same,” BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya had posted on ‘X’.
With inputs from News18