Centre opposes plea for same process for removal of CEC and ECs

The Centre has opposed a plea to make changes in the law to ensure that Election Commissioners are removed in the same manner as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). That while the CEC was a permanent functionary whose appointment is mandated by Article 324 of the Constitution, ECs may or may not be appointed based on the needs of the Election Commission and that this was to be decided by the President.

Stating that there was “no justification” for the demand to treat the ECs and CEC as equal on the question of removal, the government said that the commission was functioning smoothly and in an independent manner and there was no material placed on record to necessitate such an amendment.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in response to a PIL by BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay raising the demand, the government said the apex court had in the 1995 case of T N Seshan vs Union of India upheld the Constitutional provision which provides for different modes for removal of the CEC and the ECs.

While the CEC can be removed only in the same manner as a judge, the ECs can be removed only on recommendation of the CEC. The government also opposed the demand for a separate secretariat for the commission on the lines of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha secretariat. The affidavit said comparing the Commission secretariat to that of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha secretariat or the Supreme Court “is not apposite”.

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