Retiring CECs, election commissioners should be barred from accepting govt-sponsored posts: CPI(M)

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New Delhi, Apr 15 (PTI) The CPI(M) on Thursday said in view of the 'taming' of the Election Commission (EC) by the ruling BJP in the ongoing Assembly polls in four states and a Union Territory, retiring CECs and election commissioners should be barred from accepting any government-sponsored posts.

The editorial in the latest edition of the party's mouthpiece, People's Daily, said the prerequisite for a free-and-fair election is an impartial EC, which can ensure a level-playing field for all the political parties, deal firmly with offenders and resist executive interference at all levels.

'The commission, which had set a creditable record in this matter over the decades, is now in danger of losing that reputation. The 'taming' of the commission is following the by now well-known modus operandi of the Modi government.

'During the course of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, one of the election commissioners, Ashok Lavasa, had displayed independent thinking. He had recorded his dissent at least five times on decisions taken by the commission as a whole in exonerating Narendra Modi and Amit Shah of violations of the MCC. Consequences followed. Soon after, Lavasa's wife, son and sister -- all came under income tax probes, which were well publicised in the media...,' the editorial alleged.

It also raised questions on the role of the EC in the state polls, particularly in West Bengal, and described it as 'controversial'. It then went on to list several decisions of the poll panel, which it found questionable.

'To preserve the integrity of the commission, those retiring as the CEC or commissioners should be barred from accepting any government-sponsored posts. Electoral reforms are urgently required for curbing the use of money power, defections and making the electoral system more representative. But such reforms should begin with the reform of the Election Commission itself.

'...This brings up the crucial weakness in the functioning of the commission as an independent, autonomous constitutional body.... It is easier to get civil servants who are conformist and pliant to the top executive. The Modi regime has been working systematically to bring all the constitutional bodies under its control. The EC is in danger of becoming an extension of the government,' it alleged.

The Left party said the selection and appointment of election commissioners are not the sole prerogative of the executive and recommended the forming of a broad-based committee or collegium to select these officials, which should have representatives of not only the executive but also the top judiciary, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and noted jurists, it said. PTI ASG RC