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Parliament passes CEC and ECs (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023

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 New Delhi: Parliament has passed the ‘Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023’ with the Lok Sabha approving it today. The Rajya Sabha has already cleared it. The Bill replaces the ‘Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991’. It provides for the appointment, salary, and removal of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs). According to the provisions of the Bill, the CEC and ECs will be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of a Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will consist of the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and Leader of Opposition or leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

Replying to a brief discussion on the bill, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said the Bill has been brought in consonance with the direction of the Supreme Court with regard to the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. He said, under the legislation, a Search Committee headed by the Union Law Secretary will propose a panel of names to the Selection Committee. Mr. Meghwal said the Salary of the CEC and ECs will be equivalent to Judges of the Supreme Court. The Minister underlined that if the CEC or ECs passes any order, it will not be challenged in any court of law.

Earlier, initiating a discussion on the Bill, Chinta Anuradha of YSR Congress supported the legislation expressing confidence that it will strengthen the public trust in the electoral process. Dr Sanjay Jaiswal of BJP said, the bill is intended to allow CEC and EC to work in a free and fair manner. He alleged that it was the Congress party that had misused its power in the appointment of ECs during its rule. Another BJP MP Kirit Solanki also supported the Bill saying the government believes in an impartial Election Commission. Rajiv Pratap Rudy of BJP said the bill will strengthen the poll body in the country.

Sudheer Gupta, Dilip Ghosh and Sanjay Seth of BJP, Jayadev Galla of TDP and others also spoke on the Bill. Opposing the Bill, Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM  said the government has given no reason to exclude the judiciary from the appointment of CEC and ECs. He said the appointment process will come under full control of the government through this bill. He added that the Supreme Court had said that Election Commissioners must not be chosen by executive only. He added that this bill is against the spirit of the Apex Court’s direction.

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