iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 08, 2012
The UPA government is not averse to bringing about a change in the long-standing selection process of the Election Commission brass, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a top opposition leader in a letter three days ago.

He clarified that these procedural changes can only be discussed as part of the overall agenda of electoral reforms, and would require political consensus.

However, Singh virtually ruled out any change in the appointment process of the CAG. Even though several CAG reports provided the opposition with a handle to target the government, Singh contended that "there does not seem to be any urgent need to set up a committee for the appointment of the CAG".

Veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta had shot off a letter to the Prime Minister in May to demand that the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), his two deputies and the CAG be appointed through a committee.

Citing a case wherein CVC PJ Thomas' selection was struck down the Supreme Court, Dasgupta said that a committee - comprising the PM, CJI and the Lok Sabha opposition leader - should select the CEC and CAG. "…the appointment process should be transparent. This will help build the public's confidence in the government," Dasgupta wrote.

In his reply to Dasgupta's letter on November 5, Singh said, "Any change in the procedure of appointment, resignation and removal of the EC would require wide-ranging discussions with other political parties. This, if necessary, can be taken up as part of the agenda for electoral reforms."

The CAG selection process, on the other hand, has "stood the test of time", he added.

"CAG reports are examined by the parliamentary committee, and the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has traditionally been a member of the main opposition party," Singh said.