From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Appointment process of Election Commissioner
Mains level : Paper 2- Impact of vacancies
For months on end, top slots in important government agencies like NHRC, CBI, Election Commission, NCERT etc remain vacant affecting the governance.
Vacancies in various agencies
- The post of the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission was kept vacant until June this year.
- The post of the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had been vacant since February until the recent appointment.
- The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired on April 12 leaving just two members in the Commission.
- The Centre appointed the new Election Commissioner in June.
- Of the 40 Central universities across the country, nearly half are without regular Vice-Chancellors.
- Officers holding additional charges exist in various ministries, commissions and departments.
Impact of vacancies
- Vacancies have had a deleterious effect on governance.
- Delays in promotions and appointments affect the organisations.
- Vacancies also tend to demoralise the officials who await promotions after vacancies arise.
- Delays in important appointments send a wrong signal to the nation.
- Elections Commission was functioning only with two members for several months, in case of a disagreement on any issue between the two of them, a solution would have become difficult.
Need to change the process for appointment of Election Commissioners
- The appointment of Elections Commissioners is done by the Centre.
- The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court demanding the appointment of Election Commissioners by a committee, as is done in the case of appointment of the Director of the CBI.
- The 255th Report of Law Commission had recommended that Election Commissioners be appointed by a high-powered committee.
- The high-powered committee is headed by the Prime Minister has two members – the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
- However, if the Prime Minister decides on a candidate and the CJI consents, the Opposition leader’s dissenting note carries no weight.
- There is a need, therefore, to expand the high-powered committee to include at least two more members of eminence with proven integrity for the selection process
- A time frame needs to be worked out to announce top appointments at least a month in advance.
- Political considerations need to be pushed to the back seat for a clean and honest administration.
Considering the impact vaccines have on governance, we need to devise a mechanism to avoid such vacancies for such a long duration.