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Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Sandhu picked up as new election commissioners: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Photo courtesy: UNI

Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Sandhu picked up as new election commissioners: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

| @indiablooms | 14 Mar 2024, 04:27 pm

New Delhi: Retired IAS officers Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Sandhu have been chosen as the election commissioners for the two vacant posts in the top panel of the Election Commission of India ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, media reports said.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, said on Thursday that a meeting of a three-member high-level selection board chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which convened earlier today to appoint two election commissioners.

However, the government has not yet issued an official statement on the new appointments.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were the two members apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the panel.

Chowdhury said he was not happy with the selection process as the government is in the majority in the panel and added that the Chief Justice of India should also have been one of the members to create a balance.

He alleged that a rule passed last year has reduced the selection panel to a ‘formality’.

He alleged that the time allowed to examine a long list of potential candidates was too short.

The Congress leader said he was given 212 names for scrutiny last night.

"I had asked for a shortlist so that I could examine the candidates. But I did not get that opportunity. I reached Delhi at midnight and the meeting was at noon today. I was given 212 names, how can someone examine so many candidates in a day? Ten minutes before the meeting, I was given a shortlist of 6 names," he was quoted as saying by NDTV.

"It was fait accompli that the chosen two will be selected. However, I tried to intervene in an appropriate manner so as to bolster the institution. That's why, before my arrival in Delhi, I sought a shortlist. They gave me a list of all candidates, numbering 212. Now you can imagine if, in a single night, it is humanly possible for me to examine 212 names and find out the most competent person among them," he said.

The Congress leader said he had registered his objection with a dissent note, questioning the procedure of selection.

Sandhu and Kumar are both retired IAS officers from the 1988 batch. While Sandhu is from the Uttarakhand cadre of the IAS, Kumar belongs to the Kerala cadre.

Sandhu has held significant government positions, including Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and Chairman of the National Highways Authority of India.

Kumar has served as Secretary in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and in the Ministry of Cooperation under Amit Shah's leadership.

The two former bureaucrats have been selected for the positions of Election Commissioners just one day before the Supreme Court hearing petitions challenging the selection process.

In the current procedure, a search committee, led by the Law Minister, compiles a shortlist. Subsequently, a selection panel, headed by the Prime Minister and consisting of the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and a Union Minister, makes the final decision.

Last March, the Supreme Court ruled that the selection panel must include the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.

However, the Centre later enacted a law to replace the Chief Justice with a Union Minister, skewing the process in favour of the Centre.

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