The Supreme Court issued notice on Monday over a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Central government and the Election Commission in appointing the members of Election Commission as being violative of Articles 14 and 324(2), besides the basic features of the Constitution.
The Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued notice on a petition filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms, seeking direction to implement an independent system for appointment of members of the Election Commission on the lines of recommendation of the 255th Law Commission.
Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Prashant Bhushan contended that in its report no 255 on Electoral Reforms, the Law Commission had recommended that the appointment of all Election Commissioners should be made by the President, in consultation with a three-member collegium or selection committee, consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
Bhushan said the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner, being done solely by the executive, was incompatible with Article 324(2), since the Article mandated Parliament to make a just, fair and reasonable law.
In order to ensure free and fair elections to maintain healthy democracy in the country, the Election Commission should be insulated from any political or executive interference, as the appointment of members of the Commission on the whims and fancies of the executive violated the foundation on which it was created, he added.
The plea contended that EC rendered a quasi-judicial function between various political parties, including the ruling government and other parties, thus, the Executive could not be the only person to appoint members to the Election Commission as it violated Article 14 of the Constitution and was incompatible with free and fair elections.
The petition alleged that in the past few years, the Commission had acted as an “organ of the Central Government, rather than an independent agency”.
Case Title: Association for Democratic Reforms versus Union of India