The Case of Anoop Baranwal v Union of India (2023)

July 10, 2024

A five-judge constitutional panel led by Justice K.M. Joseph unanimously ruled to alter the current procedure for choosing the chief election commissioner as well as election commissioners in the case of anoop baranwal v union of india. The Prime Minister of India, the Leader of the Opposition party, as well as the Chief Justice of India, will now form a three-person committee to advise the President on these appointments until Parliament passes appropriate legislation.

anoop baranwal v union of india Case Facts

  • The anoop baranwal v union of india case revolves around the selection and appointment process for Election Commissioners and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India.
  • Historically, the President has been able to appoint these individuals based on the Prime Minister’s suggestion under article 324 of the indian constitution. The Supreme Court modified this process by a unanimous vote on March 2, 2023.
  • The Chief Justice of India, the Leader of the Opposition (or the leader of the biggest opposition party), and the Prime Minister comprised the three-member Committee that the Court established as the new body in charge of these nominations.
  • The decision, authored by Justice K.M. Joseph and approved by Justice Ajay Rastogi, explores the evolution of article 324 of the indian constitution across time, beginning with the discussions in the Constituent Assembly.
  • It highlights the framers’ goal to protect the Election Commission from executive interference and the Parliament’s inability to pass legislation to guarantee the Commission’s independence in the future.
  • The case emphasizes the need for temporary judicial involvement to bridge the gaps in the constitutional framework until Parliament enacts legislation that fulfils the framers’ intentions.

anoop baranwal v union of india Issues

  • Is Article 324(2) lacking any legal provisions? Should the Court step in to close the gap, if one exists?
  • Should the other Election Commissioners be granted the same protections as the Chief Election Commissioner?

Contentions by the Parties


  • Since there is no legislation defining an Election Commissioner’s eligibility, there is a legal void. A democracy cannot exist without free and fair elections, so the judiciary must step in to close the gap. A democracy can only be functional when elections are run by a separate entity.
  • The Supreme Court has stepped in to offer transformative rulings on matters pertaining to elections, such as the trial of MPs and MLAs, asset disclosure, NOTAs, and booth capturing prevention.
  • Attorney Prashant Bhushan stated that Article 324(2) is not followed by the current appointment process. Because it is arbitrary, it also contravenes Article 14.
  • There has been a tendency to shorten the term of ECs by nominating elderly candidates. The Commission’s nomination process determines its independence. Most of the Commissioners were previously bureaucrats. It is a political body and a branch of the executive branch, appointed only by the Executive.
  • In order to guarantee the Election Commission’s independence, the petitioners argued for the creation of a collegium-style committee to suggest candidates. Additionally, they argued that, in light of Article 324(5), the EC should have the same protections as the CEC.


  • The claim that there is a legal void in EC appointments was refuted by India’s Learned Attorney General. The Parliament is not required by Article 324(2) to enact laws; instead, the Constitution establishes a procedure for appointment-making.
  • The respondent highlighted the judicial restraint practice in legislative matters. The separation of powers concept would be broken by the Court’s involvement in this case. It is only when a basic right is at stake that the Court must step in to establish rules. Policy matters should not be subject to judicial intervention.
  • It would be against Article 74 process for the President to act on the Council of Ministers’ advice to form a committee to suggest names for the ECI. They argued that the President is the one who appoints the Election Commission, citing the ruling in T.N. Seshan v. Union of India.
  • Because they are deemed to be the best qualified to serve as Election Commissioners, the government has been appointing members of the civil services.

anoop baranwal v union of india Judgment

  • After hearing evidence from both sides, the bench made its decision by taking into account a number of factors, including the rule of law, the scope of manipulation, impartiality, fairness, and public confidence.
  • The existing appointment method is unconstitutional according to the five-judge bench’s unanimous ruling, which also held that free and fair elections and equality are violated.
  • The bench mandated a modification to the Election Commission’s appointment procedure in order to safeguard the commission’s independence.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that the President of India will designate the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners based on recommendations submitted by a committee made up of:
  • Prime Minister of India,
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and,
  • Chief Justice of India
  • The Court further emphasized that the Leader of the largest Party in the Opposition in the Lok Sabha would be a member of this committee in the event and not in attendance was the Leader of the Opposition.
  • The Supreme Court ordered that this system be maintained in place until the required legislation is passed by Parliament. Citing seminal instances such as the Third Judges case and vishaka v state of rajasthan, the court reaffirmed the judiciary’s responsibility in bridging gaps in the public welfare interest.

A democracy’s foundation is its electoral system, which is a component of our Constitution’s fundamental framework. A democracy cannot function properly without free and fair elections overseen by an unbiased and neutral Election Commission. This ruling is a step toward ensuring the Commission’s independence. It must be protected from intervention by the executive. By filling up the gaps left by inaction on the part of Congress, the Supreme Court is assuming an activist role. But it’s also important to preserve the delicate balance of the division of powers. Since judicial activism is incompatible with the fundamental tenets of the Constitution, it should not develop into judicial overreach. By encouraging equality between branches, the courts’ restraint preserves the judiciary’s stability.

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