Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 | Last Update : 12:19 AM IST

  India   All India  13 Dec 2023  RS Passes Bill to Regulate Appointments, Service Terms of CEC, ECs

RS Passes Bill to Regulate Appointments, Service Terms of CEC, ECs

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Dec 13, 2023, 1:53 am IST
Updated : Dec 13, 2023, 1:53 am IST

The bill seeks to replace the 1991 Act, which did not have a clause related to the appointment of the CEC and other ECs

The bill that was introduced in the Upper House on August 10 seeks to replace the 1991 Act, which did not have a clause related to the appointment of the CEC and other ECs. (PTI)
 The bill that was introduced in the Upper House on August 10 seeks to replace the 1991 Act, which did not have a clause related to the appointment of the CEC and other ECs. (PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill 2023 with a voice vote. The bill to regulate the appointment and service terms of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners (ECs) incorporates key amendments like retaining their status at par with Supreme Court judges, upgrading the search committee and inserting a new clause to protect them from court cases while discharging their official duties.

The bill that was introduced in the Upper House on August 10 seeks to replace the 1991 Act, which did not have a clause related to the appointment of the CEC and other ECs.

Replying to the debate, law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said the new legislation has been necessitated as the 1991 Act had certain weaknesses. He also rebutted the Opposition allegations that the bill has been brought to circumvent a judgment of the Supreme Court related to the appointments of the CEC and the ECs.

Rather, he said, it is in accordance with the direction of the apex court judgment and also to ensure the separation of power as enshrined in the Constitution.

During the debate in the Rajya Sabha, several Opposition parties expressed apprehension that the new bill to regulate the appointment of election commissioners will allow the ruling party to appoint "yes men" and influence their conduct, which will harm democracy.

"It completely negates and subjugates the Election Commission to the authority of the executive. It does away willingly and maliciously with the judgment of the Supreme Court and that is why this law is per se like a stillborn child," Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed.

The Congress MP said there was a time when the word "EC" meant "electoral credibility". "Unfortunately, you have decided to make it 'election compromised'," he charged.

Aam Aadmi Party member Raghav Chadha claimed that for the second time within a few months, the government has attempted to overturn a Supreme Court judgment, which is an "insult" of the apex court.

"This bill is illegal. You cannot overturn the SC judgment without changing the basis of the judgment. This bill is against the basic structure of the Constitution. The basic structure of the Constitution is for a free and fair election," Mr Chadha said.

All India Trinamul Congress member Jawhar Sircar alleged the status of the CEC and other election commissioners was being deliberately lowered from that of a Cabinet secretary.

He alleged that the bill will legalise rigging and said that questions have already been raised about the credibility of the electronic voting machines.

DMK member Tiruchi Shiva also opposed the bill and demanded that it be sent to a select committee for review.

BJD member Amar Patnaik supported the bill, saying the working of the ECs is not affected by the appointment process.

He said there have been several elections since 1989, when no party was able to get an absolute majority, but election commissioners continued to hold free and fair elections.

The BJD member, however, sought clarification on the clause on disqualification of election commissioners.

Tags: chief election commissioner, rajya sabha, election commissioners (appointment, conditions of service and term of office) bill 2023
Location: India, Delhi