Security of tenure of Chief Election Commissioners

Security of tenure of Chief Election Commissioners

The Tenure of CECS

This article is based on the “Security of tenure of Chief Election Commissioners“. It talks about the Political and Constitutional significance of  The Tenure of CECS

Relevance for Prelims: Tenure of Chief Election Commissioner and  Election Commissioners

Relevance for mains: Election Commission of India, Article 324 of the Indian Constitution. 


A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India is currently having an ongoing hearing regarding the necessity for an impartial process for the nomination of Election Commissioners while raising significant concerns about the functional independence of the election body.

Issues pertaining to The Tenure of CECs(Chief Election Commissioners) 

  • According to Justice K.M. Joseph, heading the Bench, compared to recent times, Chief ElectionCommissioners (CEC) in the past had fairly long tenures. 
  • Since 1993, the ECI has expanded to include two Election Commissioners(EC) and a CEC(chairman). Presently, ECs are appointed and promoted to CEC status based on seniority. In reality, EC appointments need to be scrutinized because there is room for personal whimsy to enter the scene.
  • The CEC has a six-year term but is required to retire when they turn 65. The Court has raised concerns about the practice of choosing CECs who are close to that age and giving them a short tenure.
  • The Court appears to want to create an independent system, perhaps a selection committee that includes the Chief Justice of India. 
  • Although it could be claimed that even Chief Justices have short terms in office, this does not call into question their independence. The Government argues that the whole member’s time in the ECI, and not only their time serving as CEC, should be taken into account.
The Tenure of CECS

Pic: The Tenure of CECS

Scope for correction: 

  • There is not much doubt that having an independent body for the selection process will increase the ECI’s independence, but the Court must decide whether or not it wishes to specify the makeup of the independent body or leave that decision up to Parliament.

Significance of CEC: 

  • The position has always played a crucial role in the Indian political system, but during T.N. Seshan’s tenure, who served from 1990 to 1996, it attracted a lot of public attention. Seshan is largely acknowledged for making an ardent attempt to stop electoral fraud and corruption in India.

Suggested Reforms: 

  • In June 2012, Lal Krishna Advani, a veteran politician and former Deputy Prime Minister of India (as well as former Leader of the Opposition in the Indian Parliament), proposed that the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Law Minister, and the Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha make the appointments for the CEC and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), to make it free of partisan. 

Concluding Argument: 

The main rationale is tenure security, which may result from operational independence and space. Only the CEC has the same status as Supreme Court judges, who may only be removed by Parliament through an impeachment process. On the advice of the CEC, the ECs may be dismissed. Regardless of the appointment procedure used, there is a solid rationale for giving the ECs the same tenure security.

About the Election Commission of India:

  • The administration of Union and State elections in India is the responsibility of the Election Commission of India (ECI), an autonomous constitutional authority
  • It was established on 25th January 1950, in accordance with the Constitution. The Commission’s secretariat is in New Delhi. 
  • The body oversees elections for the President and Vice President of India as well as the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies.

Structure of the Election Commission of India: 

  • The Election Commissioner Amendment Act of 1989 changed the commission from being a single-member body to one with multiple members.
  • The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and a such number of other election commissioners if any, as the President may from the time-to-time fix.
  • There are two Election Commissioners and the CEC in it presently. 
  • The Chief Electoral Officer, an IAS rank Officer, assists the electoral commission at the state level.

Further Readings: 

  • Article 324 of the Indian constitution
  • Election Commission of India. 
  • Powers and Functions of ECI
  • Model Code of Conduct

Prelims Question

Question: Consider the following statements:

    1.)Election commission of India consists of a five-member body. 

    2.)The Union Ministry of Home Affairs establishes the election schedule for both general and bye-elections.

    3.)Disputes involving the splitting or merging of recognized political parties are settled by the Election Commission.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

    a)1 and 2

    b)2 only 

    c)3 and 2

    d)3 only

Mains Question:

Question: Issues pertaining to the security of the tenure of the Chief Election Commissioner of India should be addressed adequately. Discuss. 


The Hindu

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Plutus IAS current affairs  25th November 2022

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