SC observations on CEC appointment: RJD says top court's 'critical concerns' show EC not following its mandate
New Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) The Rashtriya Janata Dal on Wednesday said the "critical concerns" raised by the Supreme Court over the functioning of the Election Commission prove that the poll panel has not been following its mandate of conducting free and fair elections for the last couple of years.
The RJD's assertion came on a day the Supreme Court said the inclusion of the Chief Justice of India in the consultative process for the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner would ensure independence of the poll panel.
On Tuesday, the apex court had said the Constitution has vested enormous powers on the "fragile shoulder" of the chief election commissioner and the two election commissioners and it wants a CEC of strong character like late T N Seshan. The top court had also termed the exploitation of the "silence of the Constitution" and the absence of a law governing the appointments of ECs and CECs a "disturbing trend".
Reacting to the observations, RJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said the remarks made by the Supreme Court are itself an indication that what his party have been saying for long has been proved right.
"Not only the Supreme Court has raised certain critical concerns with regard to the functioning of the election commission, it has gone to the extent of asking 'will you take action against the prime minister'," he told PTI.
"They have raised question on selection criteria and that vindicates our position that in last couple years, the election commission of India has not been following its mandate under article 324 which calls for conducting free and fair elections," Jha said.
The poll panel has been silent on hate speeches as well as on unsavoury remarks made by ruling party leaders, the RJD leader alleged.
"I think it is a direction of course correction also, so that the idea of free and fair election does not die," he said.
The apex court was of the view that any ruling party at the Centre "likes to perpetuate itself in power" and can appoint a 'Yes Man' to the post under the current system.
The court made the observations while hearing a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the appointment of Election Commissioners (ECs) and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
The Centre argued that a 1991 Act ensured the Election Commission remains independent in terms of salary and tenure to its members and there is no "trigger point'' which warrants interference from the court.
It said that the mechanism adopted for appointment of CEC is seniority among the election commissioners, who are appointed by convention from secretary or chief secretary level officers of the Centre and state level, respectively.
However, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph said the independence of the institution should be ensured at the threshold for which the appointment should be scanned at the entry level. PTI ASK ZMN