SC’s judgment on the appointment of Election Commissioners

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    Major Highlights 

    • Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners have so far been appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. 
    • The judgment has now brought the appointment process of Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners on par with that of the CBI Director.
    • The high-powered committee would continue to advise the President on the appointment until the Parliament enacts a law on the appointment process of Election Commissioners. 
    • The move is aimed at insulating the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners from the Executive’s interference.

    The Election Commission of India

    • It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. 
    • It was established in accordance with the Constitution in 1950. 
    • It administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. 

    Composition 

    • Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
      • For the first time, two additional Commissioners were appointed in 1989 but they had a very short tenure till 1st January 1990. 
      • Later, on 1st October 1993, two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. 
      • The concept of a multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision-making power by majority vote.

    Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners

    • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. 
    • They have a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
    • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India. 
    • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament.

    Power and Functions 

    • All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision-making of the Commission. 
    • Political parties are registered with the Election Commission under the law. 
    • The Commission ensures inner party democracy in their functioning by insisting upon them holding their organizational elections at periodic intervals. 
    • Political Parties so registered with it are granted recognition at the State and National levels by the Election Commission on the basis of their poll performance at general elections according to criteria prescribed by it. 
    • The Commission, as a part of its quasi-judicial jurisdiction, also settles disputes between the splinter groups of such recognised parties.
    • Election Commission ensures a level playing field for the political parties in the election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties. 
    • The decisions of the Commission can be challenged in the High Court and the Supreme Court of India by appropriate petitions.

    Additional Information 

    • Article 324: Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
    • Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special electoral roll on the ground of religion, race, caste or sex.
    • Article 326: Elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
    • Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to legislature.
    • Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
    • Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

    Source: TH