Supreme Court on Friday noted that the Centre and state governments cannot appoint persons holding government office as election commissioners.
The bench led by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman observed that the independence of the Election Commission cannot be compromised in a democracy and giving the additional charges of State Election Commission to a government official is a mockery.
The bench also emphasized that compromise on the independence of the Election Commission (EC) is not acceptable, and only independent persons should be the election commissioners.
The apex court criticized that it is a disturbing trait that a government servant, while being in employment with the government, was given charge of the Election Commission in Goa.
“The independence of the Election Commission cannot be compromised in a democracy,” the bench said.
A government official attempted to overrule the High Court decision in connection to holding the panchayat polls in Goa.
The Goa government had challenged the Bombay High Court order which cancelled elections to five municipalities in the state for not reserving the wards for women as per the law.
On March 1, the Goa bench of the High Court set aside the Urban Development ministry order stopping polls in five municipal councils including Margao, Mormugao, Mapusa, Sanguem, and Quepem.
The elections to 11 civic bodies in Goa were scheduled to be conducted on March 20.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party state government in Goa had appointed its law secretary as the state election commissioner for conducting the Municipal Council elections. The top court made the observations and took decision to safeguard the independence of the Election Commission.