Congress MP Manish Tewari points out that there’s “growing concern” about Election Commission independence and autonomy. He’s introduced a private member’s bill to the Lok Sabha that calls for a high-level committee headed by the Prime Minister and composed of the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice to choose the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
Furthermore, the bill gives the Election Commission more power to “regulate, monitor, and supervise” the internal workings of all registered political parties, including internal elections. A lot of political parties have gotten opaque and ossified, and they need to become more transparent, accountable, and rule-based.
As Tewari wrote in The De in June, the Election Commission should appoint external monitors and other innovative mechanisms to ensure and uphold democracy within political parties.
In the wake of the Supreme Court hearing petitions on the need for reforms in the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners, the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Leader of Opposition or Floor Leader in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and Chief Justice of India and two senior Supreme Court judges, a private member bill is being tabled.
According to the Bill, the Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commissioners, and Regional Election Commissioners will have a fixed tenure of six years.
They shouldn’t be removed from office except according to the procedure for removing a Supreme Court Judge. Besides that, after retirement they’re not eligible for reappointment to any government, state, or constitutional office,” the bill says.
As part of the Bill, the Election Commission of India will be given the necessary power to regulate, monitor, and supervise all political parties.
According to the Bill, the Election Commission is responsible for “regulating, monitoring and supervising internal functioning, including but not limited to internal elections of all registered political parties”.
The Bill says, “The Election Commission shall regulate, monitor, and supervise the internal elections of registered political parties, according to their constitutions, until the Election Commission prescribes a Model Internal Code.”
“If any registered political party fails to follow the advisories, duration and instructions issued by the Election Commission with regard to their internal functions, the Election Commission may revoke its recognition as a State or National party along with any other action it deems fit under section 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment Order).”