New Delhi: Attorney General R Venkataramani produced the file related to the appointment of Election Commissioner Arun Goel in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
A bench headed by Justice KM Joseph had questioned the haste shown by the government in the appointment. The court said that how did the file go from ‘getting clearance’ to ‘appointment’ on the same day, while the post was vacant since May 15.
The Supreme Court had asked the Central Government to present the file related to the appointment of Election Commissioner Arun Goel, who was appointed on November 19, in the court on November 23.
The court had said that this appointment was made when the case regarding the appointment process was pending in the Supreme Court and wanted to know whether the appointment has been made following the due process.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court had said that when the matter regarding the appointment process of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners was pending before the Constitution Bench, and this appointment took place then it would like to know what kind of process was followed in this appointment.
The court had said that the Election Commissioner should be so independent and impartial that he should not hesitate if action is needed against the Prime Minister also, for this, it is necessary that they should not be selected by the cabinet only, there should be an independent body for their appointment.
During the hearing, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Anoop Baranwal, had said that VRS was given to Arun Goel and only after two days the notification of his appointment was issued. He had said that the Election Commissioner who is being appointed is a retired person, but Arun Goel was the secretary to the government.
The Supreme Court, on November 17, heard the matter and Goel was given VRS on November 18. The notification of his appointment was issued on November 19 or 20. He started working from November 21. Prashant Bhushan had said that this post of Election Commissioner was vacant since May, what procedure was followed in this case.
During the hearing, Justice Joseph had said that usually an employee taking VRS gives three months’ notice. Then Prashant Bhushan said that he doubted whether Arun Goel had given notice for VRS or not, that is why the documents related to Goel’s appointment should be called for by the court.
Attorney General R Venkataramani objected to this and said that the court is considering a larger issue. The Attorney General had said that it is not as Prashant Bhushan is stating it to be. Justice Joseph said that the court heard on November 17, at that time Bhushan had asked to consider the interim application, then the hearing took place on November 22, that is why file related to Goel’s appointment should be filed in the court.
The petition seeking to set up a committee like a collegium for the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners was referred to a five-judge constitution bench for hearing on October 23, 2018. The petition stated that in order to strengthen the Election Commission and preserve its credibility, a committee should be constituted for the appointment of Election Commissioners.
The petition has been filed by Anoop Baranwal which states that the leader of the opposition and the Chief Justice should also be included in the committee to be formed for the appointment of election commissioners. The petition sought guidelines to be issued to constitute an independent and impartial selection committee for their appointment.