New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that a Chief Election Commissioner should be someone “with character” who “does not allow himself to be bulldozed”, and a person like former CEC, late T N Seshan, “happens once in a while”.
Seshan was known for bringing key electoral reforms as the poll panel chief from 1990 to 1996.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice K M Joseph was hearing a petition seeking reforms in the system of appointing election commissioners.
“There have been numerous CECs and T N Seshan happens once in a while. We do not want anyone to bulldoze him. Enormous power has been vested on the fragile shoulder of three men (CEC and two election commissioners). We have to find the best man for the post of CEC,” the court said.
“What is important is that we put a fairly good procedure so that apart from competence, someone of strong character is appointed as the CEC,” the court told Attorney General R Venkataramani, who appeared for the Centre.
The government’s counsel said that the government is not going to oppose the appointment of the best man, but the question is how can it be done. “There is no vacuum in the Constitution. Election commissioners are presently appointed by the president on the aid and advice of the council of ministers,” he said.
The court pointed out that since 2004, no CEC has completed a six-year tenure. During the 10-year rule of the UPA, there were six CECs and in the eight years of the NDA, there have been eight. “The government is giving such a truncated tenure to the ECs and CECs that they are doing its bidding,” it said.
This comes after the government at the center strongly opposed a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the selection of CECs and election commissioners, contending that any such attempt will amount to amending the Constitution.
Arun Goel assumes charge as Election Commissioner
Former bureaucrat Arun Goel assumed charge of his new responsibility as an Election Commissioner. A 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre, Goel took voluntary retirement on November 18.
Goel joins Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey on the poll panel.
Goel was, till recently, the heavy industries secretary. He has also served in the Union Culture ministry. His appointment comes days before Gujarat goes to two-phase polls on December one and five.