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CEC has created a crisis: Experts
January 31, 2009 14:40 IST
Last Updated: January 31, 2009 14:53 IST
Constitutional experts on Saturday attacked Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami's decision to suo motu recommend removal of Navin Chawla as Election Commissioner, saying the move has created a 'crisis' and its timing just ahead of the elections could make people believe there is 'some motivation'.
Noted jurists Fali S Nariman, K K Venugopal and Shanti Bhushan said the CEC move has 'badly hit' the credibility of the poll panel which is 'very unfortunate'.
"There is a crisis created by the CEC. I am a little surprised 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," Nariman said.
His views were shared by Venugopal, who said "such a recommendation at the fag end of his tenure is not permissible".
Further, the decision taken by the CEC goes against the 1995 verdict of the Supreme Court in the T N Seshan's case in which the apex court had asserted that "if the power of Election Commission was to be exercisable by the CEC as per his whims and caprice, the CEC himself would become an instrument of aggression and would destroy the independence of the Election Commission," he said.
Bhushan, a former law minister, said 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," he said.
On CEC's power on the removal issue, Venugopal said "This power cannot be exercised suo motu (on his own) by the CEC without the reference being made to him for such removal".
"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.
Nariman also referred to the petition filed by the BJP MPs in the Supreme Court seeking Chawla's removal.
Nariman said the Prime Minister and the cabinet will now have to "consider and decide what to do."
He said if Gopalaswami felt that one of his election commissioners ought to be removed, what he could have done is to recommend that when he demits office, Chawla should not be appointed as the CEC.
"The EC has done fantastically good work, applauded all over the world and here we are tearing it apart from within," Nariman said.
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