New Delhi
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) today deplored that a recent statement made by BJP leader Joy Banerjee in a political rally in West Bengal's Birbhum has once again ignited the debate on politicians' ability to acknowledge the independence and the practical autonomy of the constitutional body of Election Commission of India (ECI).

It mentioned that in the rally on September 20, 2015, Joy Banerjee said in reference to the state assembly elections in West Bengal next year, "We have control over the Election Commission now and there will be military assistance." The remark has invited the ire of the ECI, which has directed BJP to explain its position on the statement.

Although the party in its letter to the ECI on 23 September 2015 has distanced itself from Banerjee's view, ADR in a press release pointed out that the inability of political parties to restrain their members' conduct with respect to their views and remarks on the Election Commission is poignant. It lamented that the tolerance for such constitutional impropriety on the part of politicians by their parties has caused for these unwarranted incidents to recur.

ADR recommended that the authority to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners by the government of the day without the requirement to consult the party in opposition has undeservedly paved for an implicit allusion that the autonomy and independence of the Commission may be influenced by the appointing government.

To ensure credibility and integrity of the institution of the Election Commission, and to insulate it from such unnecessary insinuations, ADR felt that it is necessary to implement a collegium system for appointments of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.

Their appointment should be recommended to the President by a collegium consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the largest party in opposition, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. A similar process should be implemented for appointments of State Election Commissioners, it added.

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