The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that any persons employed with the central or state governments could not be appointed as election commissioners “across the length and breadth of the country”. The ruling aims at ensuring independence of the election commissions.
A bench of justices Rohinton F Nariman and BR Gavai issued the direction exercising its powers under Articles 142 and 144 of the Constitution. Under Article 142, the apex court is empowered to issue directives to do “complete justice” whereas Article 144 obligates all authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court.
“The independence of the election commission cannot be compromised in a democracy. Entrusting additional charge of state election commissioner to a government official is a mockery of the Constitution,” held the court.
The bench held that election commissioners have to be “independent persons” and that nobody, who has been employed or holds an office of profit under the central or any state government, could be appointed as election commissioners.
The judgment came as the top court censured the Goa government for appointing its law secretary as the state election commissioner for conducting municipal council elections in the state. The law secretary was given the additional charge as the state election commissioner.
Calling this a “disturbing feature”, the bench ordered that henceforth, no such person shall be appointed as election commissioner by the Centre or state government.
The Goa government had appealed in the Supreme Court against the order of the high court which had cancelled elections to five municipalities in the state for not reserving the wards for women as per the law.