Consult opposition to select poll panel chief: Ex-CEC

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Times of India, December 21, 2014

The present system of selection of election commissioners needs a change, says former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi. At present, the Union cabinet – or the government of the day – nominates the names for the post of the election commissioners before recommending those to the President for their appointment.

Quraishi said, “I believe that the government should instead consult and also seek opinion of the Opposition” like it’s done with Supreme court judges and the chief information commissioner. He said while judges of apex court were selected through a collegium, the CIC is chosen by a committee which includes the leader of the opposition.

V S Sampat will complete his term as Chief election commissioner in mid-January. It is convention that the government chooses the senior most election commissioner as successor, but the vacancy created by the election commissioner’s elevation would allow the government to nominate an officer of its choice as EC.

While Quraishi wants the selection system changed, the current system also brought him the top post. Citing examples of many countries, Quraishi said, “This process of nominating election commissioner is not fool proof. Although it is true, till date no controversy has been taken place, nobody can guarantee that this process would not be misused in the future.”

Citing examples, Quraishi said that in many countries election commissioners were appointed through a process of public debate and consultation. “In some countries the entire interview process has been telecasting live on television,” he added.

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