The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and elections commissioners will be done by the President on the advise of a committee comprising the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph, in a unanimous verdict, held that this norm will continue to hold good till a law on the issue is made by Parliament.
The apex court said if the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha is not there, then leader of the single largest opposition party will be in the committee to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner and elections commissioners.
The bench delivered its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the appointment of election commissioners and the Chief Election Commissioner.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar, stressed on purity in the election process and said democracy is intrinsically linked to the will of people.
Justice Rastogi, who concurred with the lead judgement authored by Justice Joseph, delivered a separate verdict with his reasoning.
The apex court said that election in a democracy should be undoubtedly be fair and the buck stops with the Election Commission to ensure that its purity is maintained.
It said in a democracy, the purity of election must be maintained or else it would lead to disastrous consequences.
The bench said the Election Commission must act within the constitutional framework and within the law and it cannot act in an unfair manner.
It said that an Election Commission, which does not ensure free and fair role in the process, guarantees breakdown of rule of law, which is the bedrock of the democracy.
The bench said that democracy is fragile and would collapse if ”lip service” is paid to rule of law.