Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Not just collegium, SC asks tough questions about Arun Goel's elevation to EC

PUNJAB NEWSLINE | December 04, 2022 01:56 PM

NEW DELHI: There is hardly anything surprising in the Supreme Court raising questions with the Centre or pulling up the government on issues, but in the matter of the appointment of retired Punjab-cadre IAS officer Arun Goel as Election Commissioner on November 19 it raised eyebrows and has led to controversies.

The sequence of swift developments before Goel's appointment has explained this. It has come out that Goel was secretary in the Union Ministry of Heavy Industries, till he took voluntary retirement on November 18, a day before being appointed as Election Commissioner. It has been said that even the senior functionaries of the Heavy Industries Ministry were not aware of this till it came to light.

Subsequently, on the next day, November 19, Arun Goel was appointed as the Election Commissioner and he joined office two days later, on November 21.

Taking note of the haste in the appointment, on November 23 the Supreme Court asked the Centre to produce the original files related to his selection. The Apex Court told the Centre that it wants to see the files relating to the appointment of Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner and emphasized that it wants to see by what mechanism, "he was picked up", and "there is no danger to produce it (files)."

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing a petitioner, raised the issue in connection with the appointment of Goel. Bhushan said he was a sitting secretary; he was given voluntary retirement on Friday and the appointment was made on Saturday, and on Monday, he started working as EC.

Bhushan said he had filed an application in connection with the appointment and the court was hearing the matter, yet the government made the appointment. He asked how could the Centre appoint someone in just a day, what processes have been followed and what safeguards are in place.

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