DMK backs Advani on way to choose CEC
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Official sources said Sampath will assume office on June 10, the day CEC S Y Quraishi retires.
A 1973-batch IAS officer from the Andhra Pradesh cadre, Sampath was power secretary at the Centre before he took over as election commissioner in April 2009. He will be CEC until 2014. Sources told The Indian Express that the file for his appointment as CEC is with the Prime Minister and a formal notification is likely to be issued by June 8.
Partner DMK today surprised the UPA when Karunanidhi, writing in party mouthpiece Murasoli, urged the Prime Minister not to ignore BJP leader L K Advani's demand for a collegium to select the CEC "just because it came from the opposition".
Karunanidhi said he was in agreement with the suggestion in Advani's letter to the Prime Minister two days ago that the public did not have full faith in the present system to select the CEC, CAG and CIC.
Making a case for overhaul of the selection process, Advani suggested setting up a committee led by the Prime Minister with the law minister, Chief Justice of India and opposition leaders in both houses of Parliament as members to choose the right persons for these crucial jobs.
"His comments cannot be ignored just because it came from the opposition," said Karunanidhi, adding "I hope the Prime Minister and Union Government will consider this opinion with the significance it deserves."
On Monday, reacting to Advani's demand, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee merely said that the BJP veteran is an important leader and "I am sure the Prime Minister will consider it."
The CPM too has a view similar to that of Advani on the matter. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said: "There is a collegium for the appointment of the CVC. Why can't there be one for the appointment of the CEC? There should be a consistent position for all constitutional bodies."
On the composition of the collegium, Yechury said the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition, who are members of the committee which selects the CVC, should naturally be there. "The other members can be decided depending on the agreement," he said.
It was CPI leader and Lok Sabha MP Gurudas Dasgupta who first raised the issue last month. In a letter to the Prime Minister on May 25, Dasgupta suggested that the appointments of CAG and ECs should be made by a committee consisting of the PM, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.
While it was imperative that constitutional posts like CAG and Election Commissioner should be occupied by persons who have an "impeccable track record" and "in whom the nation has confidence", Dasgupta pointed out it was equally essential that the process for their selection was transparent and done by a "body which in itself is above reproach".
"Appointments to these posts should be by a committee which has wider representation so that the selected person and the process of selection are transparent and cannot be faulted," he had said, arguing that "this has become very important because in the recent period complaints of misuse of power and in some cases dubious appointments have raised hue and cry in the country, undermining the credibility of the political system."
In his letter, he had mentioned about the controversy over the appointment of P J Thomas as CVC.
Incidentally, even before the political class took up the matter, Quraishi himself had spoken on the need for reforms in the appointment process.
Speaking at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express in April, Quraishi stressed on the need to make the procedure more transparent and argued that "instead of the government alone nominating, it should be a collegium".
"When we are attacked as stooges of the party that appointed us, it is annoying. But if we have the stamp of approval from the collegium consisting of the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India, etc., nobody will raise a finger," he had said.
Presently, the CAG and election commissioners are appointed by the President on the advice of the government.
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