Thursday, December 8, 2022

Election Commissioner appointment: Supreme Court reserves judgment on the matter

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The Supreme Court has reserved judgement on the matter pertaining to the appointment of the Election Commissioner today.

The Apex Court earlier in the morning questioned the tearing hurry in which the Union Government appointed the retired bureaucrat Arun Goel as an Election Commissioner

In a Constitution bench which was headed by Justice KM Joseph it was said that the evaluation of candidates and selection of Goel was done within a time span of 24 hours which is brisk.

Justice Joseph asked the Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani who was appearing for Central government that the file for the appointment of Arun Goel was moved on November 18. and within no time the names are examined and PM approve…Is it (usually) done in such haste, with such tearing urgency

The bench added that this all happens in a day as per the file, which looks to fast to believe.

The bench also comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice Aniruddha Bose, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice CT Ravikumar.

The bench was hearing a challenge to the current system of appointing members of the ECI on the ground that the executive enjoys the power to make appointments in violation of Article 324(2) of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to produce the documents related to the appointment of former bureaucrat Arun Goel, who was serving as Heavy Industries Secretary till November 18 and was appointed as the Election Commissioner on November 21.  

Arun Goel took Voluntary Retirement from Service on Friday (November 18), he was appointed as the next Election Commissioner on Saturday and took charge on Monday which was at a lightning speed.

The question arose that the people appointed as Election Commissioners were usually retired people. However, in case of Goel, he was a sitting Secretary in the Government.

When the Apex Court conducted hearing in the case on November 17 (Thursday). On next day, Goel was given voluntary retirement. His appointment order was issued on Saturday and on Monday, he took charge.

Yesterday, when the matter was up for hearing

Strongly opposing the objections raised against the appointment, Attorney General R. Venkataramani alleged that Goel’s appointment was being ‘juxtaposed’ into a case, where the Apex Court was considering a larger issue. He asserted that there was no design in the appointment.

Justice Joseph noted that this Court had heard the case last Thursday (November 17). At that stage, Bhushan had said that there was an interim application. The next hearing took place yesterday. Therefore, the Centre should bring the files on record related to the appointment of this officer. 

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