PM-chaired panel's meet to appoint 2 ECs advanced to March 14

Election Commission of India
Election Commission of India

New Delhi | The prime minister-chaired high-powered committee on selecting election commissioners will now meet on March 14 to finalise the names of two new ECs, top sources said.

They said that the Law Ministry has sent an amended communication to all panel members for the meeting to be held now at 12 noon on March 14. The meeting was earlier slated at 6 PM on March 15.

Two vacancies of election commissioners came about following the resignation of Arun Goel on Friday and Anup Chandra Pandey's retirement on February 14.

The selection panel is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has a Union minister and the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as its members.

The election commissioners will be appointed by the president.

The sources said the appointment of two new election commissioners is likely to be made by the same day or the next.

They said the notice for the meeting to select one EC was earier sent on Saturday afternoon while Goel's resignation was notified in the evening. The amended notice for selection of two ECs was sent by the Law ministry on Monday evening.

The March 14 notice, the sources said, refers to the postponed meeting of the committee that was to be held on March 7 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Pandey. The fresh notice adds the replacement of Goel who resigned.

Days before the poll panel is expected to announce the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls, Goel resigned on Friday morning. His resignation was accepted by President Droupadi Murmu on Saturday and the Union Law Ministry issued a notification to announce it.

This leaves Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar as the sole member of the poll body.

Goel was a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre. He had joined the Election Commission in November 2022. His tenure was until December 5, 2027.

Earlier, another EC Ashok Lavasa had resigned as election commissioner in August 2020. He had given dissent notes on various model code of conduct violation decisions taken by the Election Commission during the last Lok Sabha polls.

A search committee under Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, and comprising the Home secretary and the Department of Personnel and Training secretary, will first prepare two separate panels of five names each for the two posts.

Later, the selection committee headed by the prime minister will name two persons for appointment as election commissioners.

Before a new law on the appointment of the chief election commissioner and election commissioners came into force recently, the election commissioners were appointed by the president on the government's recommendation and, as per custom, the senior-most was appointed as the chief election commissioner.

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

Two additional commissioners were first appointed on October 16, 1989, but their tenures lasted till January 1, 1990. Later, on October 1, 1993, two additional election commissioners were appointed.

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

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