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State Election Commissioners Must be Independent Persons: SC

State Election Commissioners Must be Independent Persons: SC

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 12: In a judgement that may have far-reaching consequences, the Supreme Court on Friday held that a person associated or employed with the Centre or the state government cannot work as a state election commissioner, who need to be an independent person.

The judgement came on an appeal by the Goa government against the high court’s ruling on panchayat polls.

The bench said election commissioners have to be independent persons and no state can appoint a person who holds any office with the government.

A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman also directed the Goa state election body to issue the notification for the panchayat polls within 10 days from today and complete the poll process by April 30.

Under the Constitutional mandate, it is the duty of the state to not interfere with the functioning of the state election commission, it held.

It took strong note of the fact that Goa government has given its Law Secretary the additional charge of State Election Commissioner.

Not only Goa, the state election commissioners in most of the states are usually picked up from amongst a senior IAS officer of the state cadre to conduct the state polls including the local self-government and the panchayat bodies. Under the Supreme Court’s order, many of the states would be required to change the state election commissioners replacing them with persons independent of the governmental control.

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