EC makes strong pitch for financial autonomy

New Delhi: The Election Commission today made a strong pitch for financial autonomy on the lines granted to constitutional bodies like the Supreme Court and the CAG, saying the dependence on the government could lead to conflict of interest.

"We want the budget of the Election Commission to be charged through the Consolidated Fund of India and not voted through Parliament," Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said while speaking at a discussion on electoral reforms organised by the Aspen Institute.

He said, "Any dependence on the government for anything…and they may ask for a price and that is where the conflict (can) start because we will not pay any price because we value our independence and will guard it to the last drop of our blood." Quraishi`s remarks came in the backdrop of verbal skirmishes between ministers and the Commission in the run up to the UP assembly elections.

"We are going after politicians all the time and they will be then sitting in judgement and torpedo our proposals. It`s a happy thing that they have not damaged us so far. "The Supreme Court gets it directly from consolidated fund, the CAG`s funds come from consolidated fund, that of UPSC comes from consolidated fund. I don`t know why the Election Commission was kept out of this," Quraishi said.

Apart from the funding, the CEC also sought an independent secretariat for the Commission. "We want an independent secretariat. Is it an unreasonable demand The Supreme Court, the high courts have independent registries. Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha have their independent secretariats," he said.