Advani proposes collegium system to appoint ECs, CAG

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LK Advani
New Delhi, Jun 3: Noting that the present selection process is vulnerable to "manipulation and partisanship," BJP leader L K Advani has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to introduce a broad-based collegium system to appoint Election Commissioners and the Comptroller and Auditor General.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party said the present system where members to the Election Commission are appointed by the President, "solely on the advice of the Prime Minister, does not evoke confidence among the people."

He said keeping these important decisions as the exclusive preserve of the ruling party renders the selection process vulnerable to "manipulation and partisanship."

"Indeed, the credibility of this system was severely dented when a dubious appointment to the crucial office of CEC was made a few years ago. The time has, therefore, come to reform the selection process for the EC and other constitutional bodies, as has indeed been done in the case of the CVC and CIC," he said.

He said it is in this context that he would like to "strongly urge" the Prime Minister that the new member to the
Election Commission be appointed by a "broad-based" collegium.

Advani suggested that the collegium should comprise the Prime Minister as Chairman and the Chief Justice of India, the Law Minister and Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as its members.

He said Article 324 of the Constitution which deals with the Election Commission of India should be suitably amended. "The phrasing of Article 324 (2) shows that this would not need any constitutional amendment and can be done by an ordinary enactment," noted the BJP leader. A vacancy will arise in the EC following the retirement of CEC S Y Quraishi later this month.

"There is a rapidly growing opinion in the country which holds that appointments to constitutional bodies such the Election Commission should be done on a bipartisan basis in order to remove any impression of bias or lack of transparency and fairness," Advani said.

Next year, a vacancy will arise in the CAG. "I would like to suggest in advance that, in this case too, a broad-based collegium should be empowered to select the best possible candidate," he said.

PTI

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