Complete autonomy to Election Commission

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It refers to the Supreme court issuing notices to Union government and Election Commission on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the ruling party (BJP) spokesperson rightly demanding complete autonomy for national election-watchdog through a separate secretariat on lines of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats, selecting Election Commissioners through a collegium consisting of Prime Minister, Leader of largest opposition party in Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India as recommended by several committees and commissions apart from empowering it for framing rules and conduct-code for elections. PIL also requires similar protection for all the Election Commissioners for removal like presently is for Chief Election Commissioner only. Another PIL is pending in the Apex Court for empowering Election Commission to deregister political parties which have mushroomed to more than 2000 just for getting exemptions under sections 13A, 80GGB and 80GGC on contributions received by and made to political parties perhaps to whiten black money.

All the demands raised in PIL are undoubtedly much-needed with unhealthy strictures on Election Commissioners for being a person of political rulers having appointed him. Since faulty poll-rules are tailor-stitched to suit personal requirements of politicians cutting across party-lines, successive governments defer poll-reforms for decades sideling recommendations by committees and commissions in name of never-to-be achieved political consensus. Since it is beyond understanding why only poll-reforms are not passed through majority rather than requiring political unanimity, it becomes necessary to empower Election Commission for framing election-rules rather than involving precious time of Supreme Court for directions.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)