On Thursday, August 10th, the Central Government introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha, which seeks to replace the Chief Justice of India (CJI) with a cabinet minister, in the panel for the selection of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), and Election Commissioners (ECs), amid an uproar by the Opposition.
In the post-lunch session, Union Law Minister, Arjun Ram Meghwal, moved the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, in the Upper House. According to the bill, future chief election commissioners and election commissioners will be selected by a three-member panel headed by the prime minister and comprising the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and a cabinet minister.
Opposition parties, including the AAP and the Congress, have raised their objections against the proposed bill, and have accused the government of diluting a Supreme Court Constitution bench order, which states that the selection panel should comprise the prime minister, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India (CJI), till a law is framed by Parliament on the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners (ECs).
The bill seeks to regulate the appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.
According to the bill, the CEC and ECs shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of the prime minister, who will be the chairperson; the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, and a Union Cabinet minister, nominated by the prime minister.
It also states that the appointment of the CEC and ECs ‘shall not be invalid’ merely by the reason of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of the selection committee.