The law ministry has released a letter that was written by Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami to the President seeking removal of fellow election commissioner Navin Chawla even as Rashtrapati Bhawan declined to make the document public.
Rashtrapati Bhavan had cited Chawla’s opposition to the disclosure as a reason for not making it public.
In his 93-page report, Gopalaswami had cited several instances of “partisan behaviour” on Chawla’s part, who showed “lack of political neutrality”.
Acting on a petition filed by BJP leader L.K. Advani and 179 other MPs who had levelled accusations of “political partisanship”, the then CEC had contended that he had powers under the Constitution to recommend Chawla’s removal. The government, however, rejected it and appointed Chawla as the CEC.
In the recommendation to the President, Gopalaswami had said he had concluded that “significant facts” and “irresistible conclusions” from the report submitted by him were crucial in adjudging the suitability of Chawla as Election Commissioner.
“My recommendation is, therefore, under the powers vested in me under the second proviso to Article 324(5) of the Constitution, is to remove Shri Navin B. Chawla from the post of Election Commissioner,” Gopalaswami said in the letter dated January 16, 2009, months before the general elections during which he demitted office.
Referring to 12 instances cited by him, he said, “Taken individually (they) appear to indicate Shri Chawla’s political partisanship. Collectively, they point to a continuity of consistent thought and action in furthering the interest of one party with which he appeared to be in constant touch raising serious doubts about his political detachment.”