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“No govt employee can head EC” says SC upholding commissions’ sanctity

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Following West Bengal government versus state Election Commission (EC) row, the Supreme Court on Friday stated the independence of EC is sacrosanct under the Constitution and that no government is authorised to give additional charge of State Election Commission to a bureaucrat serving under the ruling government. 

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A bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice R F Nariman hearing case of the Goa government, where it gave law secretary the additional charge of state EC, who too faced lashing for trying to overreach the HC in a case relating to reservation of SC/OBC and Women seats in elections, said “Henceforth, all state election commission shall be headed by independent persons who do not hold any office under the state government. If they hold any such office, then they have to resign before taking charge of the office.” 

The bench said it was shocked to find that the law secretary, who was given charge of the EC, attempted to overreach the hearing of petitions challenging reservation of seats in zilla panchayat elections and “made a mockery of the constitutional mandate for independence of EC”. 

The Goa district panchayat polls were to be held in February last year. However with the case travelling from the HC to SC, it will now be held before April 30, the bench ordered. 

The bench termed, law secretary’s attempt to overreach the HC by issuing a notification with lighting speed, as the most disturbing feature of the case. Which forced the apex court to use its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to issue an all India direction barring appointment (or giving additional charge) of a serving bureaucrat as state EC. 

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