New Delhi, June 3: BJP leader L.K. Advani has sought a change in the system of appointing the chief election commissioner and the comptroller and auditor general, saying it does not inspire people’s confidence.
In a letter, he urged the Prime Minister, who recommends names for these constitutional posts, to spearhead a change to a bipartisan system involving consultations with the leaders of Opposition and others.
The demand comes days before S.Y. Qureishi retires as chief election commissioner on June 10. Advani has suggested a broad-based collegium, including the Prime Minister and the leaders of Opposition in both Houses, to appoint the best candidates.
“The present system whereby members to the Election Commission are appointed by the President, solely on the advice of the PM, does not evoke confidence among the people,” Advani said in yesterday’s letter.
“Keeping these important decisions as the exclusive preserve of the ruling party renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulation and partisanship.”
He said the credibility of this system was “severely dented” when a dubious appointment was made to the crucial office of CEC a few years ago. “The time has, therefore, come to reform the selection process for the EC and other constitutional bodies, as has indeed been done in the case of the CVC and CIC.”
“Let the wholesome change come this time as a result of an initiative taken by the executive,” he said, claiming the subject was “agitating the minds” of all who wished to see reform in the electoral and governance systems.
Referring to Qureishi’s impending retirement, Advani said the question of how the vacancy in the Election Commission would be filled had generated interest and concern.
“There is a rapidly growing opinion in the country which holds that appointments to constitutional bodies such as the Election Commission should be done on a bipartisan basis to remove any impression of bias or lack of transparency and fairness,” he said.
“The people of India wish to see that only persons with competence, integrity and an impeccable record of service get appointed to these crucial bodies, whose functioning greatly determines the quality of governance.”
Advani urged the Prime Minister to consider appointing a broad-based collegium as suggested by the second administrative reforms commission in 2009. The collegium would include the Chief Justice of India, law minister, leaders of Opposition in both Houses, with the Prime Minister as head.
The phrasing of Article 324 (2) of the Constitution showed that this would not need any constitutional amendment and could be done by an ordinary enactment, he said.
Advani also suggested a similar broad-based collegium to select the best possible candidate for CAG.