In a curious case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing, the Law Ministry has released the letter written by then Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami to the President seeking removal of fellow Election Commissioner Navin Chawla while the Rashtrapati Bhawan had declined to make the document public.
The appellate authority under the Right to Information Act in the Law Ministry allowed the request of one SS Ranawat, a resident of Bhilwara in Rajasthan, for the unprecedented recommendation made by Gopalaswami in January last year. The Rashtrapati Bhawan 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 the part of Chawla who had shown "lack of political neutrality".
Acting on a petition filed by BJP leader LK Advani and 179 other Members of Parliament 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 CEC.
In this regard, Gopalaswami cited Chawla's own notings on another occasion that the CEC had the power to make such a recommendation.