Bill relating to Appointment of CEC, ECs introduced in RS; opposition protests
Bill relating to Appointment of CEC, ECs introduced in RS; opposition protests

New Delhi: Another development took place in the Rajya Sabha as a bill aimed at regulating the appointment procedures, terms of service, and tenures of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (ECs) was presented. This occurrence was not without its share of contention, as opposition factions vehemently contested the bill's introduction.

The responsibility of introducing the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, was shouldered by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal. This legislative proposal also encompasses the protocols for conducting the affairs of the Election Commission.

According to the provisions outlined in the bill, the President will be tasked with appointing Election Commissioners on the basis of recommendations furnished by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister. The panel will be presided over by the Prime Minister himself.

Should this bill be enacted, it would supersede a March 2023 verdict of the Supreme Court. This judgment stipulated that the appointment of Election Commissioners would be carried out by the President, acting upon the counsel of a committee composed of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India. It is worth noting that the apex court's ruling specified that this procedure would remain in effect until such time as a parliamentary law was formulated.

Unsurprisingly, the proposed bill has elicited a sharp and critical reaction from opposition quarters. KC Venugopal, a prominent leader from the Congress party, voiced concerns that the bill's intent was to transform the Election Commission into a mere marionette controlled by the Prime Minister. In a tweet, he stated, "This is a blatant attempt to render the Election Commission entirely subservient to the Prime Minister."

Delhi's Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, also utilized the platform of Twitter to express his viewpoint. He opined that the bill's implications suggested that the Prime Minister could nullify any decision of the Supreme Court that did not align with his preferences, by introducing a bill in the Parliament.

In response to Arvind Kejriwal's remarks, Amit Malviya, a leader within the BJP, asserted that the government was well within its rights to present the bill. He pointed out that the Supreme Court's verdict had recommended a temporary method for the appointment of the CEC in the absence of a statutory mechanism. Given this context, he defended the government's action of tabling a bill on the matter.

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