Several assembly elections are ahead, and the 2024 general election. As a result, there is no way to see the reforms that the central government is speeding up at this moment in this larger political background.
Few days ago, the Narendra Modi government launched a major reform almost in the middle of civil society, by introducing the ‘Chief Election Commissioners and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Terms of Office) Bill, 2023’ in Parliament.
This would replace the current system with a new system: a panel would be formed in the collegium system, with nominees from the administration, and the final nomination would be subject to presidential approval. Obviously, the main change that is going to come out of this is the monopolistic influence of the ruling party on the Nomination Committee and the Election Commission.
The nomination committee will consist of the Prime Minister himself, the main leader of the opposition, and one more cabinet minister—that is, two representatives from the ruling party and one from the opposition—and the Chief Justice will drop out.
This new nominating committee is being empowered so far that they can appoint anyone outside the panel to the commission, if such a decision is deemed necessary.
That is, the selection committee can work without ignoring the recommendations of the search committee, and whoever it wants can give a decisive place in a very serious institution like the election commission.
Any revision or reform has an aim. Is it difficult to understand, what is the purpose behind this particular amendment?
“By destroying all the rights of the judicial department and establishing the prestige of the administrative department unilaterally, whose purpose is being fulfilled – what remains to be understood?” said the opposition.
Where the influence of the ruling party is so absolute on the administration that the statement of the opposition party is not allowed to be presented in the Lok Sabha, is there any room to think that the opinion of the opposition party will have any importance in the committee meeting behind closed doors?
“Democracy, which has completed seventy-six years under the Narendra Modi government, is on the path of inevitable self-destruction” mentioned opposition.
The National Election Commission will henceforth become the home of the ruling party’s partisans—and perhaps the entire country-wide electoral system will be run under their thumb.
Notably, last March, the Supreme Court had ordered that the Chief Justice should be included in the nomination committee of the National Election Commission along with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition — unless a new bill is passed in Parliament.
The statement of the Judiciary in this direction is quite clear — and that clarity is tinged with a particular political color to those who ‘cannot see’, their vision or judgment.
The Modi government therefore skipped the main point and concentrated on the latter, and on August 10 a bill was introduced to replace the Chief Justice with a cabinet minister, thus weighing on the ruling party.
According to several judges looking at the situation: running an election commission with members kneeling before the ruling party is completely against democracy.
“The current central government is moving forward to establish party authority by removing one institution after another from the democratic path. This is the last proof” told opposition parties including left parties.
Now if they are right then question is that is it the last hour of democracy in India?