Article 324 Current Affairs - 2019
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Madras High Court has dismissed two writ petitions filed against the Presidential decision to rescind the Lok Sabha poll notification for the Vellore parliamentary constituency in the wake of complaints of large-scale distribution of cash to voters.
Why the Lok Sabha Polls in the Vellore Constituency was cancelled?
Lok Sabha election to the Vellore constituency was cancelled following the recovery of a huge amount of cash allegedly from a DMK candidate’s office.
The Election Commission had decided to cancel the polls after the district police had filed a complaint against the accused, Kathir Anand (DMK Candidate from Vellore) as well as two party functionaries on the basis of a report from the Income Tax department on April 10.
Observation made by the Madras High Court
Writ petitions were filed by AIADMK candidate A.C. Shanmugam and independent candidate K. Sugumar, who sought a direction to the Election Commission (EC) to conduct polls for the Vellore constituency along with 38 others in the State on 18th April.
The Supreme Court rejected the petitioners claim that the Constitution does not confer upon the President any power to countermand an election and, therefore, a gazette notification issued by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice notifying the decision of the President to rescind the poll notification should be declared ultra vires.
The High Court pointed out that it was the EC that had made the recommendation for countermanding the polls to the President by exercising powers conferred on it under Article 324 of the Constitution, Section 21 of the General Clauses Act of 1897 and other enabling powers aimed at ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections.
It was the President who had notified the polls on March 19 on the basis of a recommendation made by the EC and by exercising powers conferred on him under Section 14 of the Representation of the People Act of 1951. Hence President was right in rescinding the notification on the basis of EC’s subsequent recommendation.
The President has appointed Sushil Chandra as the new Election Commissioner. Sushil Chandra’s appointment fills the vacancy caused after the retirement of O.P. Rawat, as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). Sushil Chandra will join other two members of the Commission, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner (EC) Ashok Lavasa. The appointment was made under the clause (2) of Article 324 of the constitution.
Clause (2) of Article 324
The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix. The appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament be made by the President.
The President appoints the Election Commissioner based on the recommendations of the cabinet under the Transaction of Business Rules of 1961.
Sushil Chandra is currently serving as the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). He is the second Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer to be appointed to the Commission after T.S. Krishnamurthy, who went on to become the CEC in 2004.
Sushil Chandra is a B. Tech from IIT Roorkee and who also holds a law degree. He joined the Revenue Service in 1980. He has served as Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) International Taxation in Delhi, Director of Investigation, Mumbai and Director General Investigation, Gujarat.