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Supreme Court Bench Steps Down from Hearing Plea on Election Commissioner

On Monday, a Supreme Court bench led by Justice KM Joseph stepped down from hearing a plea that challenged the appointment of Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner. A bench of Justices Joseph and BV Nagarathna stated, ‘List the matter before another bench’ before recusing themselves from the case. Prior to their withdrawal, the top court questioned the NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’ for challenging Mr. Goel’s appointment and asked it to demonstrate which rules were violated. The bench asserted that presumptions could not be made about a person’s fairness or partiality after their appointment to a constitutional post.

The petition relied on a March 2 verdict of the Supreme Court, which ruled that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and ECs would be made by the President on the recommendation of a committee, including the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, and the CJI, to preserve the ‘purity of election.’ In the verdict, the five-judge bench expressed confusion about how bureaucrat Goel applied for voluntary retirement on November 18 last year if he was not aware of the proposal to appoint him as an Election Commissioner. During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, claimed that the appointment process of Goel was arbitrary and malafide, and that four officers were chosen out of a pool of 160 across the country, many of whom were younger than Goel.


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