The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on Goa’s BJP-led government for appointing its law secretary as the state’s Election Commissioner. The three-judge Bench comprising Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, BR Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy said that appointment of government officers as the state Election Commissioners was tantamount to making a ‘mockery of the constitution.’
The top court was hearing a petition filed by Goa’s BJP government challenging the high court’s order cancelling municipal body polls in five civic bodies namely Margao, Mapusa, Mormugao, Sanguem and Quepem.
“The Independence of election commission cannot be compromised in a democracy. Entrusting additional charge of State Election Commissioner to a government official in power is a mockery of the constitution,” NDTV quoted the Supreme Court Bench as saying.
Justice Nariman, in particular, called it ‘a disturbing feature that a government servant, while being in employment with government, was in charge of the Election Commission in Goa.’
The Bench also directed the Goa state election body to issue the notification for the civic body polls within 10 days from today and complete the poll process by 30 April.
The Goa government had given its law secretary the additional charge of State Election Commissioner. The officer in question had attempted to overrule the high court’s decision on the polls. The high court had cancelled civic body polls in five municipalities for not reserving seats for women.
According to the Livelaw website, the Goa government was represented by Mr. Tushar Mehta Solicitor General and Senior Advocate Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, while the Respondents Goa Forward party was represented by Sr. Advocate Mr. Atmaram NS Nadkarni, with Mr. Salvador Santosh Rebello, AOR, Salvador Raghav and Co.