Congress on Tuesday said that the CEC has no powers to remove the Election Commissioner and the recommendation of the CEC is "not a sword in his hand".
"Without recommendation of the CEC, an EC cannot be removed but the recommendation is not a sword in the hands of the CEC," Union Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.
Making a scathing attack on the BJP for "targeting" institutions, which do not toe the line of the party, Sibal alleged that the saffron party had been critical of the Election Commission as also the Supreme Court in the past.
Noting that the controversy surrounding the EC was a legal issue, he wondered why the BJP was not approaching the court and said the Congress was "deeply disturbed" over BJP's attitude.
Sibal, himself a legal luminary, emphasised that the power to recommend removal of an Election Commissioner given to the CEC was in fact for protecting the Commissioner from arbitrary removal by the government if it incurred its wrath while duly discharging duty.
The CEC, he argued, cannot suo moto use the power to remove an Election Commissioner. Besides, he contended that the CEC and the EC are "co-equals" and under no principle of law, a co-equal can become a disciplining authority.
Sibal dismissed suggestions that the Commission would not be able to conduct the general elections in a free and fair manner in view of the controversy.
He steered clear of a question as to how the government would deal with the issue raised by the CEC merely saying that "Constitutional process will be followed".