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Law & Judiciary

"With heartbreaking haste and lightening speed," SC queries Center about selection of the election commissioner

The Hawk
November24/ 2022

New Delhi (The Hawk): The Attorney General R. Venkataramani, who was appearing on behalf of the Centre, was probed by the Supreme Court on Thursday regarding the appointment of Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner, asking what the "tearing urgency, haste," and why the appointment was made at a "lightning speed."

After reviewing the Goel appointment file, a five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice K.M. Joseph further inquired into the standards the Law Minister used to choose the final four candidates from the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) database.

The AG responded by arguing that the court shouldn't convene a mini-trial on the appointment; nonetheless, the bench pressed him to explain why the appointment was made so quickly.

The bench inquired about the same-day procedure, same-day clearance, same-day appointment, lightning-fast turnaround, and the nature of the examination.

Justice Joseph questioned the AG especially about the standards the Law Minister used to select four names from the DoPT database.

The bench noted that the names were chosen by the Minister, and that the file was posted on November 18 before being moved the following day.

The judge informed the AG: "On the same day, the name is even recommended by the prime minister. We wish to avoid any conflict..."

It also noted that the position had been vacant since May 15 and urged the AG to explain what had caused the government to act so quickly.

Justice Joseph stated once more that the court is concerned about the appointment of a "yes man" and questioned the Law Minister's selection of the four names from among hundreds of applicants who met the age requirements.

The bench questioned the speed with which Goel was appointed, saying that it took less than 24 hours to complete and notify everyone.

A number of petitions asking for a collegium-like system for choosing election commissioners and the chief election commissioner are being heard by the supreme court (CEC).

The hearing is now taking place.

The Supreme Court requested the files pertaining to Goel's recent appointment from the Center on Wednesday, stating that there was "no risk" in producing the documents and that it wanted to know how "he was picked up."

(Inputs from Agencies)