No plan for collegium system to pick Election Commissioners: Govt

RSTV Bureau

The government today said it has no proposal to introduce a ‘collegium’ system to appoint election commissioners, a recommendation made by the Law Commission as part of its report on electoral reforms.

It also said that it has no plans as of now to draft a law on selecting the chief election commissioner as well as fellow election commissioners.

“No madam,” said Minister of state for Law P P Chaudhary in the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question on whether there was a proposal to introduce a collegium system as part of a selection process to appoint election commissioners in future.

File photo: BJP leader and Union Minister for Information & Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.

File photo: BJP leader and Union Minister for Information & Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“At present, no such proposal is under consideration of the union government,” the minister said to a question on whether the Centre will seek the advice of all parties before drafting a law on the selection process of CEC and fellow ECs.

In its March 2015 report on electoral reforms, the law panel had recommended that the appointment of all election commissioners, including the CEC, should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium or selection committee, consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha) and the Chief Justice of India.

The then Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi too had favoured a collegium- type set up to choose the CEC and Election Commissioners.

Noting that the present selection process is vulnerable to “manipulation and partisanship,” BJP veteran L K Advani had in 2012 asked the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to introduce a broad-based collegium system to appoint election commissioners and the Comptroller and Auditor General.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the then chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party had said the present system where members to the Election Commission are appointed by the President “solely on the advice of the Prime Minister, does not evoke confidence among the people.”

The President appoints the CEC and ECs after the Law Ministry initiates the file for their appointment. The CEC can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament. The government can remove the ECs based on the recommendation of the CEC.

The precedent is to appoint the senior-most election commissioner as the CEC.