The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a five-judge Constitution bench a petition seeking a collegium system for appointing the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners, PTI reported.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul heard a public interest litigation filed by petitioner Anoop Baranwal, who has sought a transparent and neutral selection procedure for appointments to the Election Commission of India.

The petition claimed that the Centre’s practice in appointing members to the poll panel was discriminatory, reported LiveLaw.

“The practice of appointing the member to the Election Commission without making law for a fair, just and transparent process of selection by constituting an independent and neutral collegium/selection committee to recommend the name, is in violation of Article 14 and 324 (2) of the Constitution of India and is in vogue continuously since adoption of the Constitution,” the plea added.

“Under the Constitution of India, the independence and integrity of the Election Commission is of paramount importance for ensuring a free and fair election to strengthen and maintain the life of the democracy,” the plea said. “The independence and the integrity of the Commission is being jeopardised and thus public injury is being caused” in the absence of a proper law, it added.

However, the Centre has opposed the petition. Attorney General KK Venugopal said that no chief election commissioner has been found guilty of abusing their official position so far. But the court observed that the issue of appointments should be taken up by a larger Constitution bench.