CEC’s Special Leave Petition

News: The Chief Election Commissioner of India has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court seeking legal protection against any action based on the oral comments being attributed to the judges of the Madras High Court on the Election Commission and its officials.

Background:

  • During the hearing of elections-related cases, the concerned bench of the Madras High Court has been reported to have made some oral comments against the Election commission and its officials, portraying them as responsible for the surge in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It has also been reported that the judge called for concerned officers to be put up for murder charges.
  • The ECI has said the oral observations have led to the filing of a criminal complaint against the officer(s) of the Election Commission of India.
  • Following the reports in the media on the oral comments, the Election Commission tried to obtain an order from the Madras High Court to gag the media from reporting oral observations made by judges. The High Court, however, refrained from passing any such order.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner of India has appealed to the Supreme Court against the oral comments.
  • The special leave petition urges the top court to direct the police not to register cases for murder against Election Commission officials or take any coercive action on the basis of media reports on oral observations attributed to the High Court judges.

EC’s stand:

  • The EC argues that given the derogatory nature of the oral comments, it would tarnish the image of the Election Commission (Constitutional body). The oral comments would impact or lower the faith of the masses in the poll body and the democratic process.
  • The petition claims that the Bench of the HC should have given the ECI an opportunity to place the entire factual position on record before making the allegations orally. It amounted to a violation of the principles of natural justice. The ECI has said the HC should have refrained from making such allegations without evidence.

Special Leave Petition:

  • The Constitution of India under Article 136 vests the Supreme Court of India, with a special power to grant special leave, to appeal against any judgment or order or decree in any matter or cause, passed or made by any Court/tribunal in the territory of India (except military tribunal and court martial).
  • It is to be used in case any substantial constitutional question of law is involved, or gross injustice has been done. It is discretionary power vested in the Supreme Court of India and the court may in its discretion refuse to grant leave to appeal.