‘Mockery of democracy’: Opposition slams bill on EC appointments | Latest News India


The Opposition on Tuesday attacked the government in the Rajya Sabha for bringing a bill that it said would compromise the functioning of the Election Commission of India, pave the way for the appointment of yes-men as the country’s topmost election officials and bulldoze the independence of the commission.

The bill has replaced the CJI in the selection panel with a cabinet minister. (ANI)
The bill has replaced the CJI in the selection panel with a cabinet minister. (ANI)

The Opposition flagged its concerns during a discussion on the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote. The Opposition also argued that the bill was against the Supreme Court’s March direction that a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the leader of the Opposition should select the three top officials.

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The bill has replaced the CJI in the selection panel with a cabinet minister.

Initiating the discussion on the bill, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said it would bulldoze the independence and fearlessness of election commission even as he questioned the government’s intent and warned against disastrous consequences.

Read Here | ‘Pawn Election Commissioner’: Congress’s ‘bulldozer’ attack as govt passes EC bill in Rajya Sabha

“The framers of the Constitution wanted the election process to be fair, independent and without the government’s interference…Parliament is the fountainhead of democracy. It must adhere to the tenets of democracy,” he said.

Some members demanded that the bill, which replaces the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991, be referred to the house’s select committee for wider consultations. However, the amendments demanding this were defeated by a voice vote.

There are no checks and balances in the selection committee and the government has taken full control of it, Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha said.

Read Here: Ex-CECs believe Bill to appoint top poll officials ‘downgrades’ status of Election Commission

“By replacing CJI with a minister, the control of the selection committee has come in the hands of the government. Now the government has two votes in the panel. It can take all decisions with the majority of 2:1. Now a yes man or a party man can become an election commissioner,” Chadha said, opposing the bill as a “mockery of democracy.”

The government, however, dismissed the Opposition’s charges stressing that the functioning of the ECI would remain “impartial and transparent”, and the bill was brought as the 1991 law had a major shortcoming — it did not regulate the appointment of the top election officials.

DMK’s T Siva opposed the bill calling it “undemocratic, unjustifiable and unacceptable,” while Trinamool MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said it suffered from “unreasonableness and arbitrariness.”

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