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CEC says he is "right" in seeking Chawla's removal

February 01, 2009 21:42 IST

"I am right", Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami said on Sunday, unfazed by the sharp criticism to his recommendation for the removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla for "partisan" functioning.
     
Gopalaswami's January 16 recommendation to President  Pratibha Patil [Images] that Chawla should be removed for being
allegedly biased in favour of Congress has been strongly criticized by noted jurist like Fali Nariman and major
political parties except the Bharatiya Janata Party which supported it.
     
The CEC, whose term ends on April 20, told PTI "in my  mind, I am right".
      
Gopalaswami pointed out that while the move had been criticized by some jurists, for other leading lawyers like Harish Salve, he was within his Constitutional right to make such a recommendation.
      
"It is bound to happen. Each person looks at the information he has. For some people, timing is wrong and for others it is not," the CEC said.
      
Nariman had said "it is most uncalled for and ill-timed. If he (CEC) wanted to give such an opinion, he should have done so earlier".
      
Former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan echoeing a similar view said, "the CEC has no right to give a view on his own.
 
Appointments and removals are in the government's domain and a view by the CEC is to be given only if his advice is asked for".
     
Asked about criticism on the timing of his recommendation, barely a few months before his own retirement and the Lok Sabha polls, Gopalaswami defended it and explained that the petition came to him towards the end of January 2008. In February, the Commission was busy with preparations for the Karnataka assembly polls, he said, adding that Chawla, who was on leave for some time, was given the petition copy in  July last and he took six months to respond.
    
Referring to Chawla's assertion that the dignity of the Commission was paramount, the CEC said "yes, I also hold the
same dignity."
  
"The EC has delivered flawless elections for several years. We will continue to do so. The dignity of the EC is  paramount," Chawla had said yesterday when reporters sought his reaction on the CEC's recommendation.
      
"I share the same dignity and credibility of the institution. What is credibility, it is only its neutrality", Gopalaswami said.
      
"If 179 MPs give a petition, I just can't throw it in the dustbin," Gopalaswami said dismissing the suggestion that it was a suo motu action.




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