The Government on Monday gave a clean chit to Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, saying he could not be removed on allegations of misconduct levelled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and there was no need to refer the matter to the chief election commissioner (CEC).
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Government said the allegations made against Chawla in a writ petition by Jaswant Singh, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, were unfounded and there was no ground for interference.
"The allegations do not make out any case of illegality and/or impropriety which would warrant the initiation of further steps by the government to seek the removal of Navin Chawla," the affidavit maintained.
The Government said the averments in Singh's petition on the conduct of Chawla as Election Commissioner were bereft of details and totally vague.
Justifying the decision of President APJ Abdul Kalam in forwarding the memorandum submitted by Singh to the Government, it said that appointments to the post of election commissioner and CEC were made by the president on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
"Likewise, in the matters relating to the removal of an election commissioner of CEC, the aid and advice of the council of ministers become relevant in the matter," it said.
Referring to the contention that the president ought to have referred the memorandum to the CEC, the Government said: "The views of the CEC can be sought only if there is a proposal from the Union Government for removal of the election commissioner and general recommendations upon 'suitability' are completely outside the purview of the exercise contemplated under Article 324 (5) of the constitution."