A Bill to regulate the appointment, conditions of service and term of office of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 10, with Opposition parties strongly opposing its introduction.
Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023.
The Bill also deals with the procedure for transaction of business by the Election Commission.
The Bill proposes that the Election Commissioners will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a panel comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will chair the panel.
The Bill, if it comes into effect, will negate the Supreme Court’s March 2023 judgment that held that the appointment of Election Commissioners will be done by the President on the advice of a panel comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. However, in its judgement, the apex court had held that the procedure underlined by it would hold till a law is enacted by Parliament.
The proposed Bill has evoked a sharp reaction from opposition parties. Congress leader KC Venugopal said the Bill aims to make Election Commission a “puppet in hands of Prime Minister”.
“A blatant attempt to make the Election Commission a total puppet in the hands of the Prime Minister,” he said in a tweet.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet that the Bill shows that “the Prime Minister will change any decision of the Supreme Court that he does not like by introducing a bill in the Parliament”.
In response to Arvind Kejriwal, BJP leader Amit Malviya said that the Government is within it rights to bring the Bill.
“The SC judgement had suggested a transient method for appointment of the CEC, in absence of a statutory mechanism. The govt is well within it right to bring in Bill for the same,” he said in a tweet.