The Supreme Court on Friday (March 12) pulled up Goa for entrusting additional charge of election commissioner to a state official and ordered the Pramod Sawant government to appoint an independent election chief immediately.
The government had given additional charge of state election commissioner to the law secretary.
The apex court was responding to an appeal by the Goa government against an order of the Bombay High Court, which had stayed some civic election notifications issued by the Goa election commission.
“The independence of the election commission cannot be compromised in a democracy. Entrusting additional charge of state election commissioner to a government official is a mockery of the Constitution,” the court stated.
The SC bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, B R Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy also took the opportunity to tell all state election commissioners in the country, currently holding additional charge, to step down right away. “No government employee or bureaucrat can hold the position of an election commissioner,” the Supreme Court observed.
The SC upheld the Bombay HC order on municipal reservations and told the Goa government to notify reservations for municipalities of Mormugao, Margao, Mapusa, Quepem and Sanguem in the next 10 days. The election commission has been told to finish the election process by April 30.
Reacting to the SC verdict, Goa’s Leader of Opposition 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.”
Sawant tweeted: “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!”