Sukhbir Sandhu, Gyanesh Kumar Appointed Election Commissioners - Vibes Of India

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Sukhbir Sandhu, Gyanesh Kumar Appointed Election Commissioners

| Updated: March 14, 2024 21:05

With Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led panel on Thursday picked bureaucrats Sukhbir Sandhu and Gyanesh Kumar for the posts of Election Commissioners (ECs).

The appointments come after one of the EC’s Arun Goel resigned last week and while the other, Anup Pandey resigned in February.

Goel’s tenure as Election Commissioner was expected to last until 2027, and he was in line to succeed Rajiv Kumar as the chief election commissioner after Kumar’s retirement. However, Goel resigned from his position, leaving the election commission of India with only one member, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar.

The reasons for Goel’s resignation remain unknown, but his appointment and subsequent resignation have been significant points of contention within the Election Commission and the broader political landscape.

Addressing reporters at his residence soon after the meeting ended, panel member Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said six names came up before the panel for the selection of the two ECs and the names of Sandhu and Kumar were finalised by a majority of members of the high-powered panel.

The six names shortlisted were those of Utpal Kumar Singh, Pradeep Kumar Tripathi, Gyanesh Kumar, Indevar Pandey, Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, Sudhir Kumar and Gangadhar Rahate, all former bureaucrats.

Hailing from Punjab, Sukhbir Sandhu is a retired IAS officer of the 1998 batch.
He was appointed as chief secretary of Uttarakhand under CM Pushkar Singh Dhami in 2021.

He also has experience serving as chairman of the National Highways Authority of India and additional secretary in the department of higher education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Sandhu has an expansive educational background with a Master’s degree in History from Guru Nanak Dev University, an MBBS degree from Amritsar’s Government Medical College as well as a law degree.

Gyanesh Kumar is a retired IAS officer of the 1988-batch Kerala-cadre who served as secretary in the Amit Shah-led Ministry of Cooperation.

Previously, he was also the secretary of the Parliamentary Affairs. The ex-IAS officer played a pivotal role in the abrogation of Article 370 bill.

Chowdhury, however, said the Chief Justice of India should have been part of the selection panel and there was no clarity on how six names were shortlisted from over 200 candidates that are said to have come before the search committee headed by the law minister.

The Supreme Court had in March last year ruled that the panel must have the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha. But the Centre thereafter brought a law to replace the Chief Justice by a Union Minister. The change has tilted the process in the favour of the Centre.

Chowdhury said he was given 212 names for scrutiny last night. “I had asked for a shortlist so that I can examine the candidates. But I did not get that opportunity. I reached Delhi at midnight and the meeting was at noon today. I was given 212 names, how can someone examine so many candidates in a day? Ten minutes before the meeting, I was given a shortlist of 6 names,” he said.

“It was fait accompli that the chosen two will be selected,” the opposition leader added.

The Association for Democratic Reforms and Congress leader Jaya Thakur have challenged the process in Supreme Court and the matter will be heard tomorrow.

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