Govt officials cannot work as state election commissioners: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a person associated or employed with the Centre or the state government cannot work as a state election commissioner, who needs to be an independent person.

The judgement came on an appeal by the Goa government against the high court's ruling on panchayat polls. A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said entrusting additional charge of state election commissioner to a government official is a mockery of the Constitution. The bench emphasized that a compromise on the independence of the Election Commission (EC) is not acceptable, and only independent persons should be the election commissioners.

The top court observed that it was not correct that a government servant, while being in employment with the government, was given charge of the Election Commission in Goa.

"The independence of the Election Commission cannot be compromised in a democracy", said the top court.

The Goa government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order, which cancelled elections to five municipalities in the state for not reserving the wards for women as per the law. The Goa government had appointed its law secretary as the state election commissioner for conducting the Municipal Council elections in the state. The top court decision is aimed at safeguarding the independence of the Election Commission.

A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman also directed the Goa state election body to issue the notification for the panchayat polls within 10 days from today and complete the poll process by April 30.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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