The Supreme Court asked the Centre on Wednesday to produce before it the file related to the appointment of Election Commissioner Arun Goel, who was appointed on November 19. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice K M Joseph said it wants to know whether there was any "hanky panky" in Goel's appointment as election commissioner as he was only recently given voluntary retirement from service. The bench rejected the objections of Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani on the court willing to see the file related to Goel's appointment while the hearing is on.The apex court added that it would have been more appropriate if the appointment awaited the outcome of the hearing before the constitution bench on the selection mechanism of CEC and ECs. “Because this appointment was made after we began hearing this case, let's see how the appointment is made. You should not have any danger since you say everything is hunky-dory,” the bench noted. A 1985 batch Punjab cadre IAS officer Goel will be in line to become the next chief election commissioner after Kumar's tenure ends in February 2025.
The Apex Court further said that Independence of the Election Commissioner (EC) is paramount. . The bench also questioned the independence of the appointment process. “Any government can appoint a ‘yes man’,” the Supreme Court told the Centre. “But the question is whether there is independence in his actions or not. Independence is a quality which is required,” the court said. “Was the appointment of the election commissioners two days ago a transparent process? What mechanism did the centre undertake?” the court asked. “It’s a convention, a consultative process,” the Centre said.