Explained: Who Is Ex-Election Commissioner Arun Goel, What Does His Resignation Mean Ahead Of Lok Sabha Polls?

Goel’s departure from the three-member Election Commission of India (ECI) leaves two positions vacant as his fellow Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey retired last month.

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Arun Goel Photo: Getty Images

Election Commissioner Arun Goel on Saturday resigned from his position ahead of the anticipated announcement about the 2024 Lok Sabha election dates. His resignation was accepted by President Droupadi Murmu with immediate effect, according to a notification by the Ministry of Law and Justice. It is unclear whether the election schedule will be affected by Goel’s resignation.

Goel’s departure from the three-member Election Commission of India (ECI) leaves two positions vacant as his fellow Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey retired last month. The ECI now only consists of Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar.

Moreover, the development comes just two days before the Supreme Court is set to hear the electoral bonds issue.

Who is Arun Goel?

Arun Goel, a retired bureaucrat and former Punjab-cadre IAS officer of the 1985 batch, joined the Election Commission (EC) on November 21, 2022. He was scheduled to retire as Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries, on December 31, 2022, but sought voluntary retirement from service (VRS) on November 18, which was approved. The next day, he was appointed an Election Commissioner, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Sushil Chandra.

The Supreme Court had then questioned the "haste" and "tearing hurry" with which Goel's appointment was processed, noting that the Election Commissioner's post became available on May 15 and after remaining vacant for six months, Goel’s appointment was approved within 24 hours, at “lightning speed”.

"What kind of evaluation is this. We are not questioning merits of EC Arun Goel's credentials but the process of his appointment," the Supreme Court had said.

Before joining the EC, Goel served in various posts at the Centre, including as Joint Secretary in the Department of Revenue and as Vice-Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) during the Congress-United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) rule. He also served as Secretary, Culture during May 2018-December 2019.

Reactions to Arun Goel’s Resignation

Following Goel’s resignation, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge in his social media post said the Election Commission of India “will now be among the last Constitutional institutions to fall”.

“India now has only ONE Election Commissioner, even as Lok Sabha elections are to be announced in few days. Why? As I have said earlier, if we do NOT stop the systematic decimation of our independent institutions, our DEMOCRACY shall be usurped by DICTATORSHIP!” his post read.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP K C Venugopal in a post said the resignation of Arun Goel was “deeply concerning for the health of the world’s largest democracy”.

“There is absolutely no transparency in how a constitutional institution like the ECI has been functioning and the manner in which the government pressurises them,” he said.

While Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said that it was the first time independent India’s ECI bench consisted of only one member.

“Just like Govt’s full cabinet consists of only the first minister,” her post read.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, while speaking to media, said the resignation of the election commissioner right before the announcement of election schedule was shocking.

“I have said in the parliament that government is going against the Supreme Court and changing the method of the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners. If out of three people who are there to appoint them, two are from the govt, it's obvious that the govt will place their own people in that position,” he added.

How are Election Commissioners elected?

On December 12, the Rajya Sabha passed The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Office and Terms of Office) Bill, 2023, changing the way members were to be appointed to the Election Commission of India. The bill got the president’s assent on December 28, 2023.

The bill states that the Election Commission will be made up of a Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and additional Election Commissioners (ECs), who must have served in a position equivalent to the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. The President will periodically decide on the number of ECs, and they will be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of a Selection Committee.

The Selection Committee comprises the Prime Minister, a cabinet minister, and the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the single largest opposition party). A Search Committee, headed by the Law Minister, will propose five names to the Selection Committee. The CEC and EC shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of this Selection Committee.

The new law, however, has drawn criticism for doing away with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) from the selection process, which was previously included in the Anoop Baranwal case judgment.

Petitions were filed in the Supreme Court against this new law arguing that this exclusion compromised the independence of the committee and the process of appointing the CEC and ECs.


On February 13, the SC refused to stay the operation of the new law.

"Sorry, we cannot grant you interim relief in the matter. The matter of constitutional validity never becomes infructuous. We know our parameters for granting interim relief," the bench had said.

"It's not a matter which can be decided like this. A legislation of Parliament cannot be stayed like this. We have to examine the issue in terms of power of judicial review. We will hear this petition along with other pending petitions on the issue,” the bench further said.