Supreme Court questions hasty appointment of Arun Goel as Election Commissioner
The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has questioned the “urgency” with which Arun Goel, a 1985 batch IAS officer, was appointed as the Election Commissioner. A five judge Constitution Bench, led by Justice K M Joseph and including Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C T Ravikumar, while hearing petitions seeking reforms for the appointment of Election Commissioners, said the file about Arun Goel was cleared within 24 hours, asking the Centre as to “whether there was any tearing urgency” to do so.
The questioning by the top court comes a day after it inquired about the “mechanism” through which the former IAS officer was appointed last week as the Election Commissioner, adding that the “Centre should not fear producing the file if they were right, as they claimed and that there was no hanky panky.”
“What kind of evaluation is this? Although, we are not questioning the merits of Arun Goel’s credentials but the process,” the bench added.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was representing the petitioner, submitted that Arun Goel took a Voluntary Retirement from Service (VRS) on Friday and was appointed as the Election Commissioner the very next day. Justice Joseph has asked Attorney General R Venkatramani to produce the files regarding appointment of Goel, as he added, “We heard the case last Thursday. At that stage, Mr.Bhushan said there is an interim application. Then the next hearing took place yesterday (Tuesday). Therefore, we would like you to produce the files relating to the appointment of this officer. So that if you are in the right, as you claim, that there is no hanky-panky, then there is nothing to fear.”
“We don’t think it is a matter where you should be withholding information. We are living in an open democracy,” Justice Joseph told the Attorney General.