New Delhi: Opposition parties Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict on appointments in the Election Commission, saying the judgment will strengthen democracy and pave the way for free and fair polls, with the Congress seeking that the same mechanism be applied to the Enforcement Directorate.
The Supreme Court (SC) Thursday ruled that the appointments of the Chief Election Commissioner and election commissioners will be done by the President on the advise of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
Terming the verdict as historic, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it is significant as steps are required to be taken to stop the misuse of agencies and institutions by the BJP-led government.
“We strongly welcome the historic decision of the Supreme Court, wherein it held that the Chief Election Commissioner must be appointed by way of a committee comprising the prime minister, the CJI and the leader of opposition (or the leader of the single-largest party),” Singhvi told reporters.
“If the Election Commission can have a selection process on the basis of fairness and independence, shouldn’t (the members of) an institution like the ED (Enforcement Directorate), which can directly create terror in politics, also be selected through this process? The same ED, which has become the political ally of the government today,” the Congress leader said.
He said the verdict has come at a time when the ruling regime has been one of the “worst offenders” when it comes to violation of electoral safeguards with no consequences for their actions.
In a similar vein, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the verdict is a victory of democracy.
“Supreme Court’s landmark order is a democratic victory! We welcome the decision of the Constitution Bench on the appointment of Election Commissioners and Chief Election Commissioner. Will of the people prevails over the ill-fated attempts of the oppressive forces!” she said on Twitter.
TMC MP Derek O’Brien said the ruling will transform the “Extremely Compromised EC” to an “Extremely Competent EC”.
The CPI(M) also said it is a step in the right direction to ensure the poll body’s independence.
“This is a step forward in the direction of strengthening the independent authority and functioning of the Election Commission which alone is mandated to conduct a free and fair election under Article 324 of the Constitution,” the CPI(M) said in a statement.
The Left party said it always advocated for appointments to the Election Commission to be on the lines of what the Parliament enacted regarding the appointment of the CBI director and the Lokpal, among others, in a transparent and democratic manner.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh also said the apex court’s decision on the appointment of election commissioners will help strengthen India’s democracy and the Constitution.
“Now PM, LoP and CJI will decide who will sit in Election Commission. EC used to fix election dates by looking at PM’s rallies, announcements of schemes which called into question the impartiality of the Election Commission. This decision will strengthen democracy,” he said.
“The government’s control over the Election Commission will end with the Supreme Court’s decision,” Singh added.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi hailed the Supreme Court and called the judgment a “landmark” order.
“Truly landmark order from Supreme Court on top appointments of EC. A panel comprising PM, Leader of Opp/opposition leader of largest political party in Lok Sabha & the CJI for the top appointments in Election Commission. Earlier it was the PM recommending names to the President,” she said in a tweet.
Welcoming the top court’s ruling, DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said on Twitter, “…When ‘autonomous bodies’ are being robbed, this timely intervention by SC is crucial to protect the independence of ECI whose transparent functioning is indispensable for a vibrant Democracy.”
Hailing the ruling as a landmark decision, NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said the verdict will strengthen democracy as the entire nation looks up to the Election Commission to conduct free and fair polls.
Congress leader Singhvi added that the ruling is an important reminder for the Election Commission about its role in maintaining and sustaining the country’s democracy.
His party colleague Anand Sharma said on Twitter, “Welcoming the historic Supreme Court verdict on Election Commission. Insulating EC from Government influence and dependence will secure the integrity of the electoral process. A truly Independent EC alone can fulfill the Constitutional mandate of conducting free and fair elections.”
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi hoped that the ruling will bring transparency and that the election commissioner would be more independent.
“For democracy, it is necessary that transparency comes in the Election Commission and he (election commissioner) gets more independence,” he said addressing a meeting.