ADR moves SC challenging practice of executive alone appointing Election Commissioners

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New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the executive alone appointing the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners, saying it creates apprehension regarding the poll body's neutrality.

The NGO also sought establishment of a neutral and independent collegium/ selection committee for appointment of members of the Election Commission.

The plea said the executive cannot be the sole participant in the appointment of members of the Election Commission as it gives unfettered discretion to the ruling party to choose someone whose loyalty to it is ensured and thereby renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulation.

The PIL stated that democracy is a facet of the basic structure of the Constitution and in order to ensure free and fair election and to maintain healthy democracy in the country, the Election Commission should be insulated from political and executive interference. The practice of appointment of members of the Election Commission by the government creates apprehensions regarding its neutrality, it said.

The plea contended that this practice violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India and is incompatible with free and fair elections.

“Democracy is a facet of the basic structure of the Constitution and in order to ensure free and fair elections and to maintain healthy democracy in our country, the Election Commission should be insulated from political and/or executive interference. “There is no doubt that in order to ensure the purity of the election process it was thought by our Constitution-makers that the responsibility to hold free and fair elections in the country should be entrusted to an independent body which would be insulated from political and/or executive interference,” the plea said.

The appointment of members of the Election Commission on the whims and fancies of the executive violates the very foundation on which it was created, thus, making the Commission a branch of the executive, the plea stated.

'The petitioner by way of present petition is also seeking a direction for constituting a neutral and independent collegium/selection committee for appointment of members of the Election Commission on the lines of the recommendations of Law Commission in its 255th Report of March 2015,” the plea said.

The NGO in its plea alleged that in recent years questions have been raised about the conduct of the Election Commission in its supervision and management of the election process. 'There has been a growing impression that the Election Commission is indulgent towards the ruling government at the Centre, and the commission has a different standard to determine the actions of the members of the ruling government and the complaints that arise during the campaign/elections,' it said. PTI PKS SJK SMN SMN