New Delhi: The Supreme Court heard again on Thursday regarding the appointment process of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. During this, the Central Government handed over the file related to the process of appointment of Arun Goyal to the post of Election Commissioner to the Constitution Bench. A 5-member bench headed by Justice KM Joseph raised questions on his appointment process after reading the file. Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Rai and CT Ravikumar are included in this bench. Justice Ajay Rastogi asked the Center the reason for moving Goyal’s file at such a fast pace. He asked how the investigation was done within 24 hours? For your information, let us tell you that Arun Goyal has been appointed as the new Election Commissioner of India 3 days back.
Goyal, a former Punjab cadre IAS officer, took voluntary retirement from the post of Industries Secretary on November 18. The Supreme Court said, ‘The Election Commission announced the vacancy of the post on May 15 and the file for the appointment of Arun Goel as Election Commissioner was approved with ‘lightning speed’. What an assessment. We are not questioning the credibility of EC Arun Goyal, but the process of his appointment. On this, Attorney General R Venkataramani said that he would answer everything, but the court should at least give him a chance to speak. The Attorney General told the constitution bench of the apex court that the Ministry of Law and Justice itself prepares a list of potential candidates, then the most suitable of them is selected. The Prime Minister also has a role in this.
Earlier, during the hearing held yesterday, a 5-member constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph told Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the central government, ‘We want to see how the appointment was done? What procedure was followed. Something like this has not happened, because Goyal had recently taken voluntary retirement. If the appointment is legal, then there is no need to panic. This is not a protest move, we will keep it just for the record. Attorney General R Venkataramani objected to the Supreme Court’s intention to see the file, but the apex court rejected his objection. He said that the Supreme Court is looking into the wider issue related to the appointment of Election Commissioners and Chief Election Commissioner, in such a situation it should not look into any individual case. I have strong objection to this.
On this, the bench said, ‘We want to know whether your claim is correct or not. Since we are hearing since 17th November, the appointment was made midway on 19th November, it can be connected. It would have been appropriate if the appointment had not been made during this period. We want to know who inspired this appointment. R. Venkataramani argued that in the 1991 Act, it has been decided that the Election Commission will have independence regarding the salary and tenure of its members. The report of Dinesh Goswami Committee has been passed by the Parliament by law. In such a situation, there is no reason why the Supreme Court should interfere in this matter. A five-judge bench said that an independent institution should be such that the entry level of recruitment is scanned. We want that there should be such a process in which the Chief Justice of India is also involved in the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner, so that the impartiality of the Election Commission can be maintained.
FIRST PUBLISHED : November 24, 2022, 10:59 IST