Cleansing the Electoral Process - Eastern Mirror
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Cleansing the Electoral Process

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 05, 2023 10:50 pm

 In an effort to cleanse the electoral process, the Supreme Court has prescribed a new process for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two election commissioners. A five-judge Constitution Bench has ruled that henceforth the appointment of Election Commission (EC) members should be done as per the recommendation of a three-member committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India, instead of someone being handpicked by the government. Clearly, this is the need of the hour as in recent times, the Election Commission has drawn more flak than praise for allegedly being partisan. It is often alleged that the EC cannot function independently as its members are selected by the government, which is detrimental to its reputation as an independent and neutral institution. The Supreme Court has also taken note of the fact and observed that democracy can only succeed if all stakeholders work towards maintaining the purity of the election process so as to truly reflect the will of the people. The apex court has further added that ‘A party in power will have an insatiable quest to remain in power through a servile commission.’ It appears that on adaptation of the new process, the Election Commission will be able to get rid of the tag of being government-friendly.

There is no denying that over the years many if not all political parties while in power have attempted to influence the Election Commission to get some undue favour. In the eighties, voting for a parliamentary by-election in erstwhile Uttar Pradesh stopped mid-way only to prevent the entry of an opposition leader to Lok Sabha. There are several other instances to prove that the constitutional body has always remained under pressure from various quarters to bend the rules so that money and muscle power can dominate the electoral process, which is a harmful trend for any democracy. Sensing the gravity of the situation, former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao vowed to restore the dignity of the institutions in order to strengthen democracy soon after coming to power. Unfortunately, the late Prime Minister could not keep his promise of liberating the institutions from political pressure and as a result these institutions are at the receiving end today and several allegations are levelled against them.

As the new process will help to appoint the commission members in a more transparent manner, it is expected that the Election Commission will be able to work with minimal to no pressure, which will put an end to allegations such as favouritism and arbitrariness against it, making unwanted political interference a matter of the past. The order will allow the Election Commission to act as per Article 324 of the Indian Constitution. This is an ideal way to restore faith in the country’s democratic process by ensuring free and fair elections by curbing the influences of money and muscle power. Hopefully, the political parties will take this order in the right spirit and refrain from manipulating the country’s democratic set-up for narrow personal gains.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 05, 2023 10:50:10 pm