In a move likely to trigger a fresh confrontation between the executive and the judiciary, the Centre is set to push for such a law. Which will exclude the Chief Justice of India from the process of appointing the country's top election officials. The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 is scheduled to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha today.
It proposes that the polling officers will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a panel of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister. The prime minister will chair the panel, it said. In fact, the bill is aimed at undermining the Supreme Court's March 2023 judgment in which a Constitution bench had said that the appointment of chief election commissioners, selection of election commissioners will be done by the President on the advice of the prime minister, the leader of the opposition and a panel of the Chief Justice of India.
The bill is setting the backdrop for a fresh confrontation between the Supreme Court and the Centre. From the appointments of judges to controversial laws like the Delhi Service Act, there is a tussle between the Centre and the Supreme Court on several issues. In the Delhi case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Delhi government will control all services except land, public order and police in the national capital.
The Centre sought a review and an ordinance was brought in to regain its control over Delhi. Once Parliament met, it used its numerical strength to pass an Act to replace the ordinance. The executive and the Supreme Court have different views on issues such as infrastructure principles. Simply put, it means that the Constitution has a basic structure, which cannot be changed by Parliament... The latest example of this difference is a statement by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, a former Chief Justice of India and now a nominated Rajya Sabha member.
"After reading the book, I am of the view that the principle of basic structure of the Constitution has a very controversial judicial basis, I will not say anything more than that," he said. Responding to his former colleague's remarks, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that once judges step down, what they say is just an opinion and not binding.
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