Says present system for appointing EC members does not inspire confidence among people

Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani called on Sunday for reforming the selection process to fill the posts of Election Commissioners and those in other constitutional bodies and demanded that a broad-based collegium handle all such appointments.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Advani said: “The present system, whereby members to the Election Commission are appointed by the President, solely on the advice of the Prime Minister, does not inspire confidence among the people. Keeping these important decisions as the exclusive preserve of the ruling party renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulation and partisanship.”

Mr. Advani's letter comes at a time when Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi is set to retire by this month-end, and there will be a vacancy in another constitutional body — the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.

Notably, even the second Administrative Reforms Commission recommended in 2009 that the CEC and other members of the Election Commission be appointed by a collegium.

Mr. Advani urged Dr. Singh to ensure that the new member to the Election Commission was appointed by a broad-based collegium, comprising the Prime Minister as its chairman and the Chief Justice of India, the Minister of Law and Justice and the Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha as its members.

“Indeed, the credibility of this system was severely dented when a dubious appointment to the crucial office of the CEC was made a few years ago. The time has, therefore, come to reform the selection process for the EC and other constitutional bodies, as has indeed been done in the case of the CVC [the Central Vigilance Commissioner] and CIC [the Chief Information Commissioner],” he said.

Mr. Advani said: “There is a rapidly growing opinion in the country which holds that appointments to constitutional bodies such the Election Commission should be done on a bipartisan basis in order to remove any impression of bias, or lack of transparency and fairness. The people of India wish to see that only persons with competence, integrity and an impeccable record of service get appointed to these crucial bodies, whose functioning greatly determines the quality of governance.”

“Article 324 of the Constitution, which deals with the Election Commission of India, should be suitably amended. The phrasing of Article 324 (2) shows that this would not need any constitutional amendment and can be done through an ordinary enactment,” he said.

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