Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigns ahead of India’s national polls

Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigns ahead of India's national polls.
Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigns ahead of India’s national polls. Photo Courtesy: PIB

In a surprising decision, just ahead of the Indian national polls, Election Commissioner Arun Goel quit the poll body, and President Droupadi Murmu accepted his resignation.

With this exit, the three-member Election Commission of India, which already had one vacancy, will now be reduced to only Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar.

With the Lok Sabha election dates likely to be announced soon, Goel’s resignation may impact the schedule.

According to an NDTV report, Goel cited personal reasons for his resignation. Despite efforts by the government to persuade him not to resign, he remained firm in his decision to step down, the report said, citing top government officials.

They also dismissed speculations that the Election Commissioner resigned over health issues.

The report said, citing senior officials that the government will start the process of appointing new Election Commissioners.

Goel, an IAS officer from the 1985 batch, opted for voluntary retirement on November 18, 2022, and was appointed Election Commissioner a day later.

His appointment was challenged in the Supreme Court, which questioned the hasty appointment process.

The court asked why there seemed to be a rush in the selection process, with the Law Minister selecting four names from a list of shortlisted candidates on November 18, and the file being moved on the same day.

The Prime Minister’s recommendation also came on the same day. The court expressed concerns about the speed of the appointment, asking about the apparent rush.

However, the petition was ultimately dismissed by a two-judge bench last year. The bench noted that although a Constitution Bench had previously examined the matter, it had declined to revoke Goel’s appointment.

Goel’s tenure was scheduled until 2027, and he was in line to take over as the Chief Election Commissioner after Rajiv Kumar’s retirement next year.

Before Goel’s resignation, there were concerns over the conduct of the Lok Sabha elections as only he and Rajiv Kumar were in the central body of the Election Commission of India, instead of the required three-member panel. Anup Pandey, the other Election Commissioner, had retired the previous month.