Vacancies send a wrong signal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Appointment process of Election Commissioner

Mains level : Paper 2- Impact of vacancies

Context

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

Way forward

  • 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.

Conclusion

Considering the impact vaccines have on governance, we need to devise a mechanism to avoid such vacancies for such a long duration.

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