The article “Implications of the M.S. Gill precedent” (April 8) rightly says the former Chief Election Commissioner’s induction in the Council of Ministers has set a wrong precedent. The framers of the Constitution would not have foreseen such a scenario. Not everything can be written down in the Constitution. We need to develop healthy constitutional traditions.
Maybe it is time to amend the Constitution to incorporate restrictions on the post-retirement options of Election Commissioners to ensure the independence of the high constitutional office. The Election Commission should not only be impartial but must also be seen to be impartial.
Dr. Gill’s induction into the Ministry is a powerful bait to constitutional functionaries and is likely to pollute the sanctity of institutions that provide a firm bulwark to the Indian democracy. The political dispensation is out to defile all conventions and institutions that were assiduously cultivated by the builders of the nation. More such allurements will herald the systemic collapse of the polity.
Most government employees have preference for one political party or the other. The issue that should concern us is whether they discharge their duties on merit. A law can be enacted saying a government employee cannot contest an election for five years after retirement or resignation on any party ticket. He can do so as an independent candidate without any outside support.
When a constitutional functionary, who is expected to be apolitical, is given a political post after retirement, the common citizen begins to doubt the neutrality he exercised while in power.
It is necessary to amend the Constitution to exclude the Election Commissioners from entering electoral politics or holding offices of profit after retirement. A dispassionate revisit is needed to identify the list of constitutional functionaries to be debarred for life from entering any legislative bodies or joining political parties.