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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pulling up Goa govt, Supreme Court says govt officials can’t be appointed SECs

The Supreme Court said entrusting additional charge of State Election Commissioner to a government official results in a mockery of the Constitution.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 12, 2021 4:15:49 pm
The SC rejected all the Special Leave Petitions filed by the Goa govt and the State Election Commission. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

The Supreme Court Friday said entrusting additional charge of State Election Commissioner to a government official resulted in mockery of the Constitution, and ordered the Goa government to appoint an independent election commissioner. The state government had given additional charge of State Election Commissioner to the state’s Law Secretary.

The top court also directed all state election commissioners across the country, who currently hold additional charge, to step down immediately, stating that a government employee or bureaucrat cannot be appointed as Election Commissioner.

A Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, B R Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy, was hearing an appeal by the Goa government against an order of the Bombay High Court which had issued a stay on certain municipal election notifications issued by the Goa State Election Commission.

The apex court upheld the High Court order regarding municipal reservations and directed the state government to notify reservations for the municipalities of Mormugao, Margao, Mapusa, Quepem and Sanguem within the next 10 days. It also directed the State Election Commission to complete the election process by April 30.

Reacting to the verdict, Opposition leader Vijai Sardesai tweeted: “The highest court of the land has crushed Pramod Sawant’s blatant attempt to violate our Constitution and derail Democracy; he’s brought disgrace not only to Goa but also to his own leader Narendra Modi who had bowed before the Constitution before taking office in 2019. The pat on the back Pramod Sawant expected has come as a slap on the face… It’s no more about resigning as Goa CM, he has no moral right to remain in public life.”

The apex court had, last Thursday, stayed the verdict of the High Court, which had set aside the notification on reservation of wards in five municipal councils.

Taking to Twitter, Sawant had then said, “Hon. Supreme Court has stayed the High Court’s order cancelling elections to five municipalities and consequent order of the State Election Commission keeping the election process in abeyance. Matter to come up for final hearing on Tuesday. Now, the democratic process has been restored!”

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