Electoral Reforms In India

Legislative Development in Election Commission Appointments


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Election Commission Appointments Bill

Mains level: Read the attached story

election commissioner

Central Idea

  • The Rajya Sabha passed a bill that revises the process for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs), replacing the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991.

Election Commission Appointments Bill:Key Features

  • Appointment Process: The President will appoint the CEC and ECs based on recommendations from a Selection Committee comprising the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.
  • Search Committee Role: A Search Committee led by the Cabinet Secretary will suggest candidates to the Selection Committee.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Candidates must have held a post equivalent to the Secretary to the central government.
  • Salary and Conditions: The CEC and ECs will receive salaries and benefits equivalent to the Cabinet Secretary, a change from the previous equivalence to a Supreme Court judge.

Constitutional Context

  • Constitutional Provisions: Article 324 of the Constitution allows the President to appoint the CEC and ECs but does not specify the appointment process.
  • Supreme Court Directive: In March 2023, the Supreme Court mandated a selection process involving the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India, until Parliament legislates otherwise.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • Independence Concerns: The government-dominated Selection Committee could impact the Election Commission’s independence.
  • Validity despite Vacancies: The Selection Committee’s recommendations will be valid even with vacancies, potentially leading to government control in appointments.
  • Salary and Status: Aligning the CEC and ECs’ salary with the Cabinet Secretary, determined by the government, may affect their independence compared to a salary fixed by Parliament.
  • Exclusion of Candidates: Limiting eligibility to senior bureaucrats may exclude other qualified individuals, particularly those with judicial experience.
  • International Practices: The appointment processes for election commissions in countries like South Africa, the UK, the US, and Canada vary, with some involving judicial members or parliamentary approval.

Concerns over Independence and Selection Process

  • Government Influence: The Bill’s provisions for a government-majority Selection Committee and the acceptance of recommendations despite vacancies could lead to executive dominance in appointments.
  • Salary and Removal Parity: The change in salary equivalence and the lack of parity in the removal process of the CEC and ECs compared to Supreme Court judges raise concerns about the Commission’s independence.

Goswami Committee (1990) Recommendations

  • Background: The Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms (1990) made significant recommendations regarding the Election Commission’s functioning.
  • Appointment Process: The Committee suggested that the CEC should be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. For ECs, it recommended a similar process but included the CEC in the consultative process.
  • Importance of Independence: The Committee emphasized the need for the Election Commission’s independence from executive influence to ensure free and fair elections.


  • Ensuring ECI’s Autonomy: While the Bill aims to formalize the appointment process for the CEC and ECs, maintaining the Election Commission’s autonomy and independence is crucial for upholding democratic principles.
  • Need for Deliberation: The concerns raised about the Bill highlight the need for careful consideration to ensure that the Election Commission remains an impartial and effective guardian of electoral integrity in India.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch