Published on: 24 November 2022 at 20:19 IST
The Supreme Court questioned the Central government’s “tearing hurry” in appointing retired bureaucrat Arun Goel as an Election Commissioner.
The Constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph noted that Goel’s selection and evaluation of candidates were completed within 24 hours.
“On November 18, this [the appointment file for Arun Goel] was moved. The names are then examined. The Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani, who was representing the Central government, was questioned by Justice Joseph. “Is it (usually) done in such haste, with such tearing urgency?” he asked.
“You completed it in one day. The 18th of November. It is shown in the file,” he added.
A challenge to the current system of appointing members of the ECI was being heard by the bench, which also included Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy, and CT Ravikumar. The argument was that the executive has the power to make appointments, which is against the provisions of Article 324(2) of the Indian Constitution.
Friday, November 18, Goel voluntarily retired from his previous position, was appointed EC on November 19, and he took over on November 21.
The Court had on Wednesday requested that the public authority produce the record connecting with the new arrangement of Goel as an EC.
This was due to the fact that the appointment was made while an interim application for a stay on appointments to the Election Commission of India (ECI) was pending before the highest court.
As a result, the government provided the documents that the court examined today.
“The vacancy listed on your first page dates back to May 15. Can you demonstrate what weighed on the government from May to November, when everything needed to be done quickly in November?”
Justice Ajay Rastogi stated that “We know that where there is a will there is a way.”
Additionally, he stated that the appointment notification was sent out that very same day.
The judge inquired what’s the possibility that evaluation can be completed within just 24 hours. The AG asserted that the name was looked at and the proper procedures were followed.
“How many appointments take place in public offices in a 12-hour period? Can we investigate all of these instances?” asked the AG.
According to the bench, what it wants to know is whether the prescribed procedure was followed correctly or not.
Justice Joseph questioned, “If you toss a coin, you win on both sides. Here, we see that man has credentials; however, what if he is docile?”
“He may be described as docile by some, but he may not be by others. Which one will the Court take into consideration?” the AG inquired.
Justice Joseph insisted the way how he was chosen one out of four others candidate.
Justice Bose offered his opinion, “The voluntary retirement, among other things, we find very… Is it normal? Does it typically occur in this manner?”
The AG responded, “He was anyway going to retire on December 31.”
The Court withheld its verdict after extensive hearing.