From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Independence of Election Commission
The Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners were summoned by the PMO to attend a meeting with the Principal Secretary to the PM.
Why the meeting raises questions?
- The PMO summoning or “inviting” not just the CEC but the full bench is in violation of the Constitution, irrespective of how important or urgent the issue.
- Violation of the principle of distancing from executive: When a person is appointed as CEC or EC, that person has to resign from his executive post in order to adhere to important constitutional principle of distancing from the executive/government.
- The executive could appoint a person to these posts but could not order them, or remove me because of the constitutional scheme of things.
- Violation of independence: An independent ECI is a gift of the Constitution to the nation. Free and fair and credible elections are sine qua non of the EC.
- The Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed this point, calling it part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
- Violation of warrant of precedence: The CEC is very high in the warrant of precedence — ninth, while the PS to PM is 23rd.
- How can such a high constitutional functionary be summoned to attend a meeting with an officer, howsoever high and mighty?
- It raises suspicions: A meeting of the PS to the PM, formal or informal, online or in the PMO or ECI, just before elections raises unnecessary suspicions.
This incident is a transgression that should not happen again. The distance of an arm’s length in interactions between institutions envisaged in the Constitution is sacrosanct. It should not only be maintained but also “seen” to be maintained.