SC Upholds Election Commissioner Appointments Amid Scrutiny of Selection Process

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New Delhi: In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court of India has dismissed a petition that sought to halt the appointment of two new Election Commissioners ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The apex court declined to impose a stay on the appointments, stating that any interference at this juncture could lead to unnecessary turmoil.

The court has confirmed the appointments of the new Election Commissioners, former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Sandhu. The positions became available following the retirement of Anoop Chandra Pandey on February 14th and the abrupt resignation of Arun Goyal on March 8th.

Prior to dismissing the petition, the Supreme Court expressed concerns regarding the rapidity of the selection process, questioning how a list of 200 candidates was narrowed down within a span of two hours. Justice Dipankar Dutta inquired if the Leader of Opposition was allotted sufficient time to review the candidates, emphasizing the need for transparency not only in practice but also in appearance.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the court that the selection process commenced in February, immediately after the relevant Act was enforced. The court acknowledged two primary concerns: the constitutional validity of the Act itself and the procedure followed for the appointments. While the court is set to deliberate on the legality of the Act, it highlighted the importance of a fair and thorough selection process, suggesting that the names of potential candidates should have been shared with the selection committee members well in advance of March 14th.

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The Supreme Court concluded by noting that the petitioners did not contest the qualifications of the newly appointed commissioners but rather the process by which they were selected. The court advised that the selection committee should be given ample opportunity to evaluate all deserving candidates thoroughly.