Officials associated with govt can’t be SECs: SC

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court Friday held that a person employed with the government cannot work as state election commissioners and came down on the Goa government for giving its Law Secretary the additional charge of the SEC.

The apex court said the state poll panels shall be headed by independent persons who do not hold any office under the state government and if they hold any such offices, then they have to resign before taking charge of SEC.

The top court said election commissioners have to be independent persons and no state can appoint a person who holds any office with the government.

A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said entrusting additional charge of state election commissioner to a government official is a mockery of the Constitution, and also directed the Goa state election body to issue the notification for the local body polls within 10 days from today and complete the election process by April 30.

Under the Constitutional mandate, it is the duty of the state to not interfere with the functioning of the state election commission, the bench held in its judgement delivered on the appeal of the state government.

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

The judgement came on an appeal by the Goa government against the high court’s ruling on panchayat polls.

The case pertained to local body elections in Goa in which reservation of wards for woman and Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes were allegedly not carried out in terms of state law The Bombay High Court had struck down the notice of state poll panel for reservation of wards.

The Goa government, in its appeal, had said that High Court could not have interfered with the poll process.

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