Significance of Supreme Court order on appointment of Election Commissioners

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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The Supreme Court is deeply concerned with the questions being raised on the elections being held in the country. Its concern is not limited to the appointment of a chairperson or its members of a commission. His concern is much broader than that. The Supreme Court wants to remove every obstacle that comes in the way of upholding democracy in the country. 

First, read two news stories – 

1. The country’s top court has said in a very important and deciding the direction of the country’s electoral future that now the right to appoint the Central Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners will now be given to the Committee of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition (leader of the largest opposition party) and the CJI.  

2. The results of the three northeastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura came after the counting of votes on March 2. Here we have to talk about Nagaland because in Nagaland, BJP and its allies have got a majority. They are going to form the government again. The state went to polls on February 27. A day earlier, after meetings held in several villages of Nagaland, it was decided that not all people will go to vote in voting. Only one person from the family will cast their votes for everyone else. And that’s exactly what happened on February 27.  

What will be the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision? 

The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS)

Now let’s talk about the Supreme Court’s decision and its possible impact.  

First, this very important decision in February 2025 will be implemented only after, when the current Central Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar retires. Because this decision does not affect the appointment of current Election Commissioners. That is, by the time this decision is implemented, assembly elections of many states and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will have been held.  

In 2025, there are elections in Delhi, Bihar and Jharkhand. But Delhi and Jharkhand are going to polls before February, that is, Bihar will be the only state where elections will be held under the new Central Election Commissioner.  

Why did the Supreme Court take an important decision on the appointment of the Election Commissioner? 

Now the question arises why did the Supreme Court have to take such an important decision regarding the appointment of the Election Commissioner? What were the circumstances or questions to which we have to read and understand some important observations of the Supreme Court judgment to find answers? The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has made very important and sharp observations besides the independence of election commissioners, the rise of money power and criminalization in politics. A few of these comments will be enough to know and understand this whole issue.  

The court said that- 

There has been a huge jump in the role of money power and criminalization of politics. The situation is that a large section of the media has deviated from its original role and become biased.  

– No existing law can be permanent, especially given the absolute authority of the executive in the matter of appointments. It can also be said that political parties will have a reason not to look for a new law, which is clearly visible. Any ruling party will have an unsatisfied desire to remain in power through a service commission.  

The Election Commission should be independent. It cannot be that he claims to be independent but does the work improperly. If a person has a sense of gratitude towards the government, he can never think independently. Whereas a free person can never remain a slave to power.  

 What is freedom after all? 

Ability can never be tied to fear. Merit should always be judged by the scale of freedom. To protect democracy, a common man will look towards an honest person.  

An Election Commission that does not guarantee the rule of law is against democracy. If it exercises its vast spectrum of powers illegally or unconstitutionally, it has an impact on the outcome of political parties.  

– Merely reaching a conclusion can never justify the wrong means responsible for it. Democracy can succeed only when all the interests work to maintain the purity of the election process.  

– The powers of appointment can be misused. It can be massive across the country. The fate of political parties and their candidates is in the hands of the Election Commission. Important decisions governing all such matters are taken by them.  

Democracy can be achieved only when the ruling parties try to maintain it in letter and spirit.  

The identity of an adequate and liberal democracy must be kept in mind. Democracy is intricately linked to the power of the people. The power of the ballot is supreme, capable of toppling even the most powerful parties.  

These nine points or observations of the court’s important decision are like nine gems. Each of these comments needs to be seen in the context of the Supreme Court’s concern over the current situation as well as the powers of the Election Commission and its unease to maintain democracy in the country. In particular, the court said that the political parties of the country are not deliberately looking for such a new law because it fulfils their desire to stay in power by keeping the existing system intact.  

While the Court says without any pretence that the Election Commission, which does not guarantee the rule of law, is against democracy, it also expresses in a very emotional and academic way that any qualification can be judged by the same scale as how independent it is. And the end is that the ballot is the supreme power capable of overthrowing even the most powerful parties.  

The Supreme Court is deeply concerned with the question marks raised on the elections 

Obviously, the Supreme Court is very concerned with the questions arising on the elections being held in the country. Its concern is not limited to the appointment of a chairperson or its members of a commission. His concern is much broader than that. The Supreme Court wants to remove every obstacle that comes in the way of upholding democracy in the country. It does not hesitate to take a dig at not only the political parties but also the commission that has taken right and wrong decisions under the gratitude of the ruling parties and the media which is getting away from its original role.  

Now the question is, will it really be possible to do what the Supreme Court intends behind this important decision 

Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court in 2018 regarding transparency in the functioning of the Election Commission. The court clubbed all these petitions and referred them to a five-judge Constitution bench. Four years later, on 18 November 2022, the Constitution Bench started hearing. During the hearing, the Constitution Bench asked many serious questions to the government. The court had also said that every government appoints a person who says yes to it as the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner.  

The court had also said that the country needs a Chief Election Commissioner like TN Seshan. 

In such a situation – where in a state like Nagaland, under the GB tradition, only one person can cast the vote of the entire family or village, and the ruling coalition BJP or the Election Commission does not have any objection, after announcing the election dates in Himachal Pradesh, it is not able to give any accurate answer to the questions raised on the commission’s decision to decide elections in Gujarat after announcing the dates.  On the other hand, despite all the evidence of hate speech during the election visits of the ruling top leaders, it is unable to impose any restrictions or prevention, believing that a decision of the Supreme Court will change the system of access to political power in the country, nothing can be more than a coincidence. Of course, the Supreme Court has fulfilled its duty to protect the values of the Constitution in the country by performing the rights and duties given to it under this Constitution.  

Now the country wants to know what the stand of the executive is, legislature and the media, the fourth pillar of democracy, on this initiative of the judiciary.  

Indu Singh 

(Translated and edited version of the article published in Desh Bandhu with courtesy )

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