Press Trust of india

Committee with PM, Opposition leader should choose CEC: Private member’s bill

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New Delhi, May 23:  Members of the Election Commission of India should be hand-picked by a committee that includes the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and not just by the government, a private member’s bill has proposed.

The bill, moved by Odisha Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda, seeks to amend the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Amendment Act, 1993.

The MP said a four-member panel– with the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Speaker on it — should appoint the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the two election commissioners.

The incumbent CEC should be the fourth member of the committee, it said.

The Bill, pending before the lower house of Parliament, seeks to provide checks and balances in the system, and to ensure a fair, just and transparent appointment process which in turn will lead to greater independence of the Election Commission, Panda said in the Bill.

At present, the commissioners of the poll panel are appointed by the President on the advice of the government.

The President appoints the CEC and ECs after the Law Ministry initiates the file for their appointments.

The precedent is to appoint the senior-most election commissioner as the CEC.

In its March 2015 report on electoral reforms, the Law Commission had recommended that the appointment of all election commissioners, including the CEC, be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium, consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the largest opposition party in the lower house) and the Chief Justice of India.

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