EC appointment: ‘What’s the tearing hurry?’ SC asks; ‘hold your mouth,’ says Centre

Former bureaucrat Arun Goel while assuming charge as the Election Commissioner in New Delhi on November 21, 2022. (Photo Credit: PTI)

New Delhi (TIP)- The Supreme Court on Thursday (November 24) questioned the government on the “haste” and “tearing hurry” in appointing Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner (EC). As the apex court observed that the file pertaining to Goel’s appointment was cleared with “lightning speed,” the Centre through Attorney General R Venkataramani asked the court to “hold its mouth” and requested it to look into the matter in its entirety. “What kind of evaluation is this? Although, we are not questioning the merits of Arun Goel’s credentials but the process,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice K M Joseph said.

Perusing the files it had sought on Goel, a 1985-batch IAS officer on Wednesday, the bench asked why his name was cleared for the top post the same day it was pitched by the minister of law.

“Minister of Law picks the names from the list of four names shortlisted…The file was put up on November 18; moves the same day. Even PM recommends the name of the same day. We don’t want any confrontation, but was this done in any haste? What’s the tearing hurry?” the court asked. This is the third consecutive day of the court’s questioning of the government on the appointment of the EC. The top court also sought to know why no initiative was taken so far to fill the post that fell vacant on May 15 and suddenly the same was filled within 24 hours.

“Not even in 24 hours, the process was completed and notified. What kind of evaluation (was carried out) here?” the apex court asked. Urging the bench to stop its volley of questions, Attorney General Venkataramani said the court should see the entirety of the issue. “Please hold your mouth for a while. I request to look into the issue in entirety,” Venkataramani said. It perused the original file of Goel’s appointment as EC which was placed before the bench by the Centre in pursuance of Wednesday’s direction given by the top court. The bench is hearing a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the appointment of ECs and the Chief Election Commissioner.

Need CEC who can’t be bulldozed: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stressed the need for a Chief Election Commissioner with the integrity and strength of character of the late TN Seshan and one who cannot be “bulldozed”.

While hearing petitions seeking reforms in the appointment of election commissioners, a five-judge bench headed by Justice KM Joseph said the Chief Justice of India (CJI) should be included in the appointment committee to ensure neutrality. The top court noted that enormous powers have invested in the “fragile shoulder” of the CEC and the two election commissioners and it is only pertinent that someone like Seshan is selected for the job.              Source: The Federal

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