The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday said it wants to see the files relating to the recent appointment of Arun Goel as the Election Commissioner. The court also said that it would have been more appropriate if the appointment was not made when the Constitution bench hearing was going on. 

The apex court is currently hearing a batch of petitions seeking an independent mechanism to appoint Election Commissioners (ECs).  

Goel was appointed as Election Commissioner on November 19. He took charge as EC two days later on November 21. The petitioners raised questions over his appointment as he had taken voluntary retirement just six weeks ago.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan said the latest appointment of Goel has been made by giving him voluntary retirement. He said everybody who has been appointed as Election Commissioner is a retired person. “He (Goel) was sitting Secretary in the government. Thursday this court heard the matter. Friday he was given voluntary retirement. His appointment order was issued on Saturday or Sunday. And Monday he started working,” Bhushan said.  

After hearing the petitioners, the SC asked Attorney General R Venkataramani to bring the files relating to the appointment of Goel on Thursday. “Because this appointment was made after we began hearing this case…,” the court was quoted as saying by legal site Live Law. The court said it just wants to understand the mechanism and see if everything is “hunky-dory”.

Venkataramani, however, objected to the direction and said the court is dealing with the larger issue of the appointment of ECs and it cannot look at an individual case. “I take serious objection to this and have my reservation to the court seeing the file amidst the hearing of a Constitution bench,” he said.

The apex court said that it started hearing the matter last Thursday and Goel’s appointment was made on November 19. Therefore, the court said it wants to see what prompted the latest appointment.

Who is Arun Goel? 

Goel was an IAS officer of the 1985 batch. He took VRS over a month ago a was appointed as EC on November 19. He superannuated as Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Government of India after more than 37 years of service. Born on 7th December 1962, he has a post-graduate degree in Development Economics from Churchill College, University of Cambridge. He has also been trained at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA.

As Secretary of Heavy Industries, he catalyzed the e-vehicle movement in India. He implemented the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for Auto Industry in a record time getting investments worth Rs 67690 crore against the target of Rs 42,500 crores and PLI for Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Storage getting manufacturing set up for 98 GW against a target of 50 GW, according to EC website.  

Goel was a District Election Officer of Ludhiana district (1995-2000) and Bathinda district (1993-94) where he smoothly conducted various Lok Sabha and assembly elections. 

In Punjab, as Principal Secretary, he steered Master Plans of New Chandigarh and all other major towns, the commission said. 

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