Him Express, 23 November: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to submit files relating to the recent appointment of Retired Punjab cadre IAS officer Arun Goel as the new Election Commissioner, as it wanted to see if everything was alright, Live Law reported.
Arun Goel was secretary to Union Ministry of Heavy Industries, till he took voluntary retirement on November 18, a day before being appointed as Election Commissioner, however in order to take VRS an employee must give 3 months notice
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice K M Joseph, which is hearing petitions seeking an independent mechanism to appoint Election Commissioners, observed that it would have been appropriate had the appointment not been made when the matter was being heard.
The court asked the Attorney General to bring the files related to the appointment of Goel on Thursday. “Because this appointment was made after we began hearing this case…”, the Court said as quoted by Live Law
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner, said that Goel was given a Voluntary Retirement Service (VRS) last Thursday, and his appointment order was issued on November 21.
“The latest appointment of Mr.Arun Goel, this has been made, by giving him voluntary retirement. Everybody who has been appointed as Election Commissioners are retired people. But he was a sitting Secretary in the Government. Thursday this Court heard the arguments. Friday he was given voluntary retirement. His appointment order was issued on Saturday or Sunday. And Monday he started working”, Bhushan said. He added that the post had been lying vacant since May and that he had filed an application seeking interim orders against appointment,” he said.
Justice Joseph recalled that in order to take VRS, an employee must give a three months notice. To which, Prashant Bhushan said that he had his doubts if there was any notice given by Goel. “That is why the court should ask for records,” he said.
Meanwhile, Advocate General of India R Venkataramani objected to Bhushan’s claims and said there was “no design” behind Goel’s appointment.