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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Comment upon the appointment procedure of the election commissioners. Suggest measures to reform appointment process? (250 words)

    29 Nov, 2022 GS Paper 2 Polity & Governance


    • Start your answer by briefly describing the Election Commission of India (ECI).
    • Discuss the appointment procedure of the election commissioner its challenges.
    • Suggest some measures to reform appointment process.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
    • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.


    • Appointment procedure of the election commissioners:
      • There is no prescribed procedure for appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners as per the constitution. Under the Transaction of Business rules, the President shall appoint the CEC and EC based on the recommendations made by the Prime Minister.
        • Therefore, it is the executive power of the President to appoint CEC and ECs.
      • The CEC and ECs are appointed by the President to a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as judges of the Supreme Court of India.
      • The Election Commission of India draws its authority from the Constitution itself. Under Article 324, the powers of “superintendence, direction and control of elections” is to be vested in an Election Commission.
    • Challenges:
      • Constitutional Dilemma: According to Article 324(2), the President shall make the appointment till the time there is no law being made by the Parliament for this purpose.
        • Because of the absence of such law, the possible statutory appointment process has been made a constitutional appointment (done under executive domain) by the President.
        • Even in the debates of Constituent Assembly, it was argued that the appointments be made by the President in consultation with PM with the concurrence of two-thirds of the majority of the joint session of both the Houses of Parliament.
      • Distinction between CEC & EC: There is a difference between the position of a CEC & EC. The appointments to both position may differ according to the task they perform. Therefore, to differentiate the process of appointment which is still done on an ad-hoc basis (because of absence of any constitutional law) becomes a challenging task that needs to be addressed properly to ensure the independent working of the commission.
      • No basic Qualification Required: The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
      • Not Debarred from Future Role in Government: The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
    • Measures to reform appointment process:
      • Independence: There must be similar election and removal procedure for CEC and ECs, and they must exercise the same powers unless specifically prescribed by a law. Also, the expenses of ECI must be charged expenditure on Consolidated Fund of India.
      • Transparency: The appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners could be done by a three-member collegium. The collegium will comprise of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India which can bring more transparency in the appointment process.
      • Autonomy: Even, the Law Commission in its 255th report on electoral reforms (2015) for ensuring greater autonomy to the ECI, recommended for the constitution of a selection committee.


    ECI’s constitutional responsibilities require a fair and transparent appointment process that is beyond reproach, which will reaffirm the faith of the people in this vital pillar of the Indian polity. The existing veil over the appointment process of ECs potentially undermines the very structure on which India’s democratic aspirations rest.

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