The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the powers to make election rules under the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951 be given to it instead of the existing practice of Central Government framing the rules.
Also seeking that the impeachment procedure for the removal of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) be extended to two other Election Commissioners (ECs) as well, the poll panel has also favoured an independent secretariat and financial powers on the lines of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Under the existing procedure, the Central Government frames the election rules under the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and Representation of the People Act, 1951 in consultation with the Election Commission.
However, seeking the reversal of roles, the Election Commission has said that the task of framing the election rules under the statutes be entrusted to it, which it would do in consultation with the Central government.
The poll panel has given the details of efforts made by it since 1998 for securing the rule-making power, financial powers, independent secretariat with full control over its staff and extending the impeachment process for the removal of two Election Commissioners.
While CEC can be removed only through impeachment, the government can remove the two Election Commissioners on the recommendation of the CEC.
The poll panel has said this in its response to a PIL by a lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking to put in a place a mechanism for appointment of the Election Commissioners and extending the procedure of impeachment for removal of the CEC to the other two Election Commissioners.
Upadhyay is a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and the spokesperson of its Delhi state unit.
Besides seeking to put in place a mechanism for the selection of ECs and impeachment procedure for removal of Election Commissioners, Upadhyay has sought direction to the Centre to provide an independent secretariat to the poll panel and declare its expenditure as charged on the consolidated fund of India on the lines of the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha secretariat.
He has also sought direction to confer on the Election Commission the rule-making authority to make election-related rules and code of conduct on the lines of the authority vested in the Supreme Court to frame its own rules.
In the last hearing of the matter on February 19, 2018, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had sought the government's response on the plea by Upadhyay.
Favouring putting in place a procedure and guidelines for the removal of two Election Commissioners as removal could not be arbitrary, Attorney General is of the view that the principle of natural justice has to be followed for their removal.
The court had asked Attorney General's assistance in the hearing of the matter in December 2017.
The matter is likely to come up for hearing on April 16.
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