The constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice K.M. Joseph has asked the Centre to produce the files associated with the appointment of Mr. Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner, as a petition requesting an impartial process for the appointment of the election commissioner is being heard by the court, in the case of Anoop Baranwal v Union of India. Attorney General R. Venkataramani has been asked to produce the files tomorrow.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, argued that the Election Commissioner is usually appointed by a retired bureaucrat while Arun Goel was a sitting Secretary. He was given voluntary retirement (VRS) last week, notified of his appointment within the next 2 days, and was working on the third. Because a three-month notice is required for the grant of the VRS, the petitioning counsel asserted that the appointment lacked the specified process, and procedure and was rushed.
The position had also remained vacant since May and the petitioning counsel had filed an application pursuing an interim order against such appointments.
When asked for the record, the Attorney General opposed and argued that the appointment concerned is being forced into a case, dealing with a larger issue. He insisted that there is ‘no design’ behind the appointment as implied by the petitioner. He also claimed that there were no actual injunctions against the appointments.
The bench, however, responded to the Attorney General by observing that an application was pending. It insisted that the Centre produce the files and if they have done no wrong they have nothing to fear, for this exploration into the appointment is not adversarial and the court would simply like to know unless the Centre had any legitimate objection; there is no point in withholding information.
By Vidisha Mathur