Supreme Court to hear pleas challenging Election Commissioners Act on March 15

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on March 15 the petitions challenging the appointment procedure of Election Commissioners under the new Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Services and Terms of Office) Act, 2023 (Act).

The plea moved by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Congress leader Jaya Thakur were mentioned before a bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice MM Sundresh and Justice Bela M Trivedi.

On Tuesday, when Advocate-on-Record Prashant Bhushan had initially mentioned the plea on behalf of ADR for urgent listing, Justice Sanjiv Khanna had asked the Counsel to follow proper procedure by moving a mentioning slip. Today, he informed the counsel appearing for the petitioners that the pleas are listed for Friday.

The recent development follows after Election Commissioner Arun Goel’s resignation as well as the likelihood of a high-level selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi filling the impending vacancies in the Election Commission by March 15.

The petitioners have lodged interlocutory applications seeking to direct the Centre to immediately appoint a new member of the Election Commission in accordance with Anoop Baranwal v Union of India decision (2023), where it was ruled that appointments to the posts of chief election commissioner and election commissioners should be made by the president based on the advice tendered by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.

The ADR’s plea filed under Article 32 of the Constitution more specifically challenges Section 7 of the Act for allegedly violating Article 14 and the basic features of the Constitution. The section mentions the appointment process, stating that the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be appointed by the president on the recommendation of a selection committee. 

The committee includes the Prime Minister as chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People as a member, and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister as another member.

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