Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023:
The Rajya Sabha recently approved the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, which outlines the procedures for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC).
Key Provisions of the Bill:
- The Bill replaces the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991.
- It addresses the appointment, salary, and removal of the CEC and ECs.
- The CEC and ECs will be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
- The Selection Committee will consist of the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Leader of Opposition/leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha.
- Recommendations of the Selection Committee will be valid even when there is a vacancy in this Committee.
- A Search Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary will propose a panel of names to the Selection Committee.
- Eligibility for the posts includes holding (or having held) a post equivalent to the Secretary to the central government.
Changes in Salary and Conditions:
- The salary and conditions of service of the CEC and ECs will be equivalent to that of the Cabinet Secretary.
- Under the 1991 Act, it was equivalent to the salary of a Supreme Court Judge.
- The Bill retains the constitutional provision (Article 324(5)) that allows the CEC to be removed like a Supreme Court Judge, while ECs can only be removed on the recommendation of the CEC.
- Bill safeguards CEC and ECs from legal proceedings related to actions taken during their tenure, provided such actions were carried out in the discharge of official duties.
- The amendment aimed to shield these officials from civil or criminal proceedings related to their official functions.