Arun Goel quits as election commissioner weeks before Lok Sabha polls

Goel's resignation has been accepted by President Droupadi Murmu with effect from Saturday. It was not immediately known why he stepped down.
Arun Goel
Arun Goel

New Delhi | Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigned on Saturday, days before the expected announcement of the schedule for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

His tenure was till December 5, 2027, and he would have become Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) after incumbent Rajiv Kumar retired in February next year.

According to a law ministry notification, Goel's resignation has been accepted by President Droupadi Murmu with effect from Saturday. It was not immediately known why he stepped down.

Goel, a retired bureaucrat, was a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre. He had joined the Election Commission in November 2022.

Following the retirement of Anup Chandra Pandey in February and Goel's resignation, the three-member EC has now only one member: CEC Rajiv Kumar.

According to the new law on appointment of CEC and ECs, a search committee headed by the law minister and comprising two union secretaries will shortlist five names.

Then a selection committee -- headed by the prime minister and comprising a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the PM and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha or the leader of the single-largest opposition party in the House picks one name.

The CEC or EC then gets appointed by the President.

Ashok Lavasa had resigned as Election Commissioner in August 2020. He had given dissent notes on various model code violations decisions taken by the EC in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Originally, the commission had only a CEC. It currently consists of the CEC and two election commissioners.

Two additional commissioners were first appointed on October 16, 1989, but they had a very short tenure till January 1, 1990. Later, on October 1, 1993, two additional election commissioners were appointed.

The concept of a multi-member EC has been in operation since then, with decision made by a majority vote.

Concerning that 2 election commissioners will be appointed before LS polls: TMC

New Delhi | As Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigned on Saturday, leaving two vacancies in the three-member EC panel, Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale said it was concerning that two appointments are to be made to the panel ahead of the general elections.

Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigned on Saturday, days before the expected announcement of the schedule for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. His tenure was till December 2027.

Following the retirement of Anup Pandey in February and Goel's resignation now, the three-member EC panel has now only Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on it.

In a post on X after Goel's resignation was announced, Gokhale said, "In a sudden move, Election Commissioner Arun Goel has abruptly resigned. The post of the other EC is vacant."

"That leaves the Election Commission now with just one Chief Election Commissioner," he said.

"Modi Govt has introduced a new law where Election Commissioners will now be appointed with a majority vote of PM Modi & one Minister chosen by him," he said, referring to The Chief Election Commissioner And Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service And Term of Office) Act.

The Act, passed by Parliament in December 2023, has provisions to set up a search committee chaired by the law minister and two other persons not below the rank of secretary, to prepare a panel of five persons for consideration of the selection committee for appointment as CEC or ECs.

The bill also has provisions for a Selection Committee, chaired by the prime minister, leader of the opposition and a Union minister, to make recommendations to the President for appointment of CEC and other ECs.

"Ergo, before 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Modi will now appoint two out of the three Election Commissioners after today's resignation. This is very very concerning," Gokhale said.

Congress expresses 'deep concern' over election commissioner Arun Goel's resignation

New Delhi | The Congress on Saturday expressed "deep concern" over Election Commissioner Arun Goel's resignation, alleging that there is absolutely "no transparency" in how a constitutional institution like the Election Commission has been functioning and the manner in which the government "pressures" it.

Goel resigned on Saturday, days before the expected announcement of the schedule for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. His tenure was till December 5, 2027, and he would have become Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) after incumbent Rajiv Kumar retired in February next year.

Congress general secretary organisation K C Venugopal said in a post on X, "It is deeply concerning for the health of the world’s largest democracy that Election Commissioner Mr. Arun Goel has resigned on the cusp of the Lok Sabha elections."

There is absolutely "no transparency" in how a constitutional institution like the ECI has been functioning and the manner in which the government pressures it, he said.

During the 2019 elections, Ashok Lavasa had dissented against a clean chit to the PM for violating the Model Code of Conduct, he said.

"Later, he faced relentless inquiries. This attitude shows the regime is hellbent on destroying democratic traditions. This must be explained, and the ECI must be completely non-partisan at all times," Venugopal said.

According to a law ministry notification, Goel's resignation has been accepted by President Droupadi Murmu with effect from Saturday. It was not immediately known why he stepped down.

Goel, a retired bureaucrat, was a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre. He had joined the Election Commission in November 2022.

Following the retirement of Anup Chandra Pandey in February and Goel's resignation, the three-member EC has now only one member: CEC Rajiv Kumar.

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