July 13, 2024

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Centre's Rethink On Bill To Appoint Poll Officers After Opposition Protest

Parliament special session: Sources in the government said they are considering amending the bill. (file)

New Delhi:

The controversial bill for the appointment of top election officers was not included in the list of eight bills given to the opposition by the government in the all-party meeting on Sunday, sources said. The meeting was held on the eve of the five-day special session of the parliament. 

Sources in the government said they are considering amending the bill — the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill. 

There is opposition to the bill as it strips the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners of the status of Supreme Court judges. It proposes that the salary, allowance, and service conditions of the CEC and other ECs will be the same as that of the Cabinet Secretary, which was also opposed by the opposition in the all-party meeting yesterday.

The bill also seeks to replace the Chief Justice of India from a panel to advise the President regarding the appointments of the election commissioners with a member of the Cabinet, who will be nominated by the Prime Minister. This is in contrast to a Supreme Court judgment of March which said the panel should comprise the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.

This provision, too, was strongly opposed by opposition parties, which alleged it would influence the fairness of elections. Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has accused PM Modi of not following the Supreme Court order and said this is a “very dangerous situation”.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, while speaking to the media after the all-party meeting, did not mention the bill.

When asked whether the CEC and EC bill will be brought for discussion and passing, he gave an evasive response. “What I have to say, I have said,” he told reporters.

At the meeting, several political parties, including from the ruling NDA and the opposition INDIA bloc, made a strong pitch for the passage of the women’s reservation bill during the five-day session beginning Monday.

A special discussion on Parliament’s journey of 75 years starting from the Samvidhan Sabha is listed for today.

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