Chawla v/s Gopalaswami: Experts Differ as BJP Goes Ballistic

New Delhi
Chawla v/s Gopalaswami: Experts Differ as BJP Goes Ballistic
With elections round the corner, predictably, the controversy over the chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswami charging his colleague Election Commissioner Navin Chawla with bias and recommending his removal to the President has assumed serious proportions.  Predictably, the political and the legal opinion is divided over whether or not the government is bound by CEC's recommendations.  Some of the voices:

I have great regard for the CEC. It is unfortunate that he has brought the very high office into controversy. The timing of this makes me believe that we should now have a constitutional provision giving all the election commissioners the same privileges whereby they can be removed only by Parliament. It is not binding on the Government to accept the CEC's recommendation but a matter to be seriously considered... The Prime Minister and the cabinet will now have to consider and decide what to do. There is a crisis created by the CEC... I am a little surprised that he did it at the time when he did it. If he had done it a year before ... It might have been considered to be a bona fide complaint because he was entitled to his views. But unfortunately he has done it at the time when reasonable ordinary people will believe that there is some motivation behind it. -- Fali Nariman, constitutional expert

HTML clipboardThe Constitution clearly states that an EC can be removed only on the recommendation of the CEC, so where is the question of any confusion. The CEC is first among equals (all being ECs) and if he is convinced that a particular EC needs to be removed, this power is given to him. -- Subhash Kashyap, former secretary general of Lok Sabha and constitutional expert

Gopalaswami should have written to the government long back and not on the eve of the elections. At this stage to create a crisis of this kind is wholly improper and the Chief Election Commissioner ought to resign"  -- Shanti Bhushan, constitutional expert and former law minister

The CEC has given his view consistent with the directives of the Supreme Court and there could be no motive attached to his action or to the timing. The BJP had made a representation to the CEC and the issue was before him. The CEC's recommendation would not disrupt the functioning of the EC ahead of general elections. The Commission could continue to run its business as usual -- Harish Salve, constitutional expert

The credibility of the Election Commission is at stake with the CEC asking for the sacking of one of its members to the President. The Election Commission is now mired in controversy. In absence of a firm action, the fairness of the Commission would become a suspect, posing a threat to democracy and Constitution -- Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP leader

I thought all election commissioners hold constitutional posts to which the constitution prescribes the term. Neither I nor you can disturb that. There is no rule which requires the spokesperson of the government to be trained in law --P.Chidambaram, union home minister

A memorandum signed by 200 Members of Parliament of the NDA was submitted to the CEC, earlier, regarding withdrawal of Chawla from the Commission and his announcement today vindicates our stand. There is no question of our either supporting or opposing the CEC's letter -- Rajnath Singh, BJP president

Election Commission is a constitutional institution, unlike the CBI which has been used by the party in power at the Centre to serve its narrow political ends. All sorts of things are happening in the Election Commmission, which are harmful to the country. -- Prakash Karat, CPI (M) general secretary.

The Constitution is very clear. While The CEC is the senior most, the two other Election Commissioners have equal standing. The only way an Election Commissioner can be removed is through impeachment. The recommendation of Gopalaswami for the removal of Chawla has no value and it can be ignored. --Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Union Minister

The CEC's recommendation involves several intricate issues of law including the very jurisdiction of the CEC to exercise such powers on a colleague. Such controversy would demean the prestige of one of the highest constitutional bodies of the country-- Abhishek Singhvi, Congress spokesman

The action smacks of political motive. The very timing of such a recommendation smacks of political motive, if at all. ... Time has come to examine the appointment and removal, powers and functions of the EC by Parliament --D Raja, CPI National Secretary

If BJP has demanded Chawla's resignation, it is wrong. No political party should speak on this matter as the matter is now between Election Commission and the President of India. Both the offices are very high constitutional bodies. It's not for me to comment on it publicly. I will say what I have to say in the Cabinet meeting in this matter--Ram Vilas Paswan, LJP chief.
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