A five-judge bench says it wants to know the mechanism by which the Election Commisioner was ‘picked up’

Supreme Court

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to produce today the files related to the appointment of former IAS officer Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner. “We would like you (Centre) to produce the files relating to the appointment of this officer. So that if you are in the right, as you claim, that there is no hanky-panky, then there is nothing to fear,” a fivejudge Constitution bench said. The bench, headed by Justice K.M. Joseph said that it wanted to understand the process that was followed in the appointment of the former bureaucrat as Election Commissioner even as it was hearing a case regarding the procedure for such appointments. The bench also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar said that the court would like to know what mechanism was followed. Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, objected to the mixing up of the appointment of Goel with the larger issue of the appointment of CEC and Election Commissioners (ECs) already being heard by the court. The apex court’s order came after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, brought up the issue of the appointment of Goel. Bhushan said that Goel was given a Voluntary Retirement from Service on Thursday and his appointment was notified on 19 November. “Everybody who has been appointed as Election Commissioners are retired people. But he was a sitting Secretary in the Government. Thursday this Court heard the arguments. Friday he was given voluntary retirement. His appointment order was issued on Saturday or Sunday and on Monday he started working,” Bhushan argued. The bench then asked AG about the mechanism adopted by the Centre for the appointment of the officer as EC. “What is the mechanism by which this officer was picked up Attorney General? Can it be made when the matter was being considered by this Court? The appointment was made when the matter was being considered by this Court,” Justice Joseph said adding that the court wants to know whether the appointment was made when the Constitution bench was hearing the matter. Attorney General said there was no injunction against the appointments. The apex court was hearing pleas challenging the constitutionality of the present appointment process of CEC and ECs and contended that appointments were being made as per the whims and fancies of the executive. The petitions sought the creation of an independent collegium or selection committee for future appointments of CEC and two other ECs.