President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday appointed the senior-most Election Commissioner, Dr Nasim Zaidi, as the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of the country. Zaidi will assume the charge as Chief Election Commissioner with effect from April 19, after the incumbent Hari Shankar Brahma will retire on April 18. The Law Ministry, which initiated the file to appoint the next CEC as present incumbent HS Brahma retires on April 19, had reportedly cited convention of appointing the senior-most EC as the CEC.
After V S Sampath demitted office in January, Brahma was elevated as the CEC. But the post which fell vacant after Brahma's elevation has not been filled. After Brahma retires on April 19, Zaidi will be the only member of the three-member poll watchdog. Zaidi will have tenure of up to July, 2017 when he attains the age of 65. An EC or a CEC has tenure of six years in office or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
"But as of now, we are appointing a new CEC. A decision on ECs will come later," a senior government functionary said.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving on a foreign tour on Thursday, there is a sense of urgency to clear the paperwork as the file will travel to Rashtrapati Bhawan for the President's nod who appoints the CEC. After Zaidi's appointment, the government will set in motion the process to appoint two Chief Election Commissioner s to fill vacancies in the three-member body.