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Supreme Court To Hear Petition On Poll Officers’ Appointments On Friday

The urgent hearing request on a petition contesting the decision to remove the Chief Justice of India from the panel responsible for choosing election commissioners was granted by the Supreme Court today. Attorney Prashant Bhushan, speaking on behalf of the petitioner Association for Democratic Reforms, was informed by Justice Sanjeev Khanna that the case will be listed on Friday and that they had received a message from the Chief Justice.

This occurs at a time when the polling organization’s top panel has two openings. Anup Chandra Pandey, his top panel colleague, retired last month, and Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigned last week. Rajiv Kumar, the Chief Election Commissioner, is the only remaining member of the top panel. The Lok Sabha election, which is the poll body’s most important event, is weeks away.

As per the current procedure to appoint election commissioners, a search committee led by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will prepare two panels of five names each for the two posts. Later, a selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comprising a Union Minister and Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will name two persons for appointment.

According to government sources who spoke with news agency PTI, the selection committee may meet today or tomorrow and fill both of the open positions by Friday.

The petition filed by the ADR draws attention to the Election Commissioner appointment procedures.

The Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha must recommend candidates for the top election positions, according to a ruling made by the Supreme Court’s Constitution bench last year.


Months later, the Centre brought the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023. This legislation, which cleared the Parliament, dropped the Chief Justice of India from the selection panel. Instead, a Union Minister was put on it. This gave the Executive more heft on the panel.

The ADR’s petition challenges this move. Congress leader Jaya Thakur has also challenged the law in Supreme Court.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had refused to pause appointments under the new law last month. But the matter has gathered steam after the resignation of Mr Goel. The Centre has drawn fire from the Opposition, which has alleged a “systemic decimation” of government institutions.

On February 13, the court had refused to pause appointments, but sought the Centre’s reply to the petition challenging the new process.

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