Is President APJ Abdul Kalam bound to take the advice of the Union Cabinet to decide whether to refer the NDA representation seeking removal of controversial Election Commissioner Navin Chawla to the Chief Election Commissioner?
Faced with this question, the Supreme Court on Friday fixed May 8 to hear a PIL filed by senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh challenging the appointment of Chawla as Election Commissioner in view of allegations of impropriety and misconduct.
Observing that the issue involved an important question of law, a Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhan said the matter had to be heard finally. The court asked the parties concerned to file their written submission before the next date.
On behalf of Singh, Senior counsel Soli J Sorabjee contended that proper Constitutional process was not followed with regard to the NDA memorandum to the President against Chawla and that it should have been referred to the CEC in accordance with Article 324(5) of the Constitution.
On the other hand, the Centre maintained that the President was bound to act on the advice of the Cabinet in all matter and this was not an exception. It further contended that the allegations against Chawla were politically motivated.
The NDA MPs had sought Chawla’s removal as Election Commissioner on the ground that he would not be able to discharge his duties impartially in view of several allegations of impropriety against him.
The Centre maintained that there was no need to take any action on the representation as Chawla has not incurred any disqualification. Chawla too had taken a similar stand.
However, the then Chief Elaction Commissioner BB Tandon had said he would give his recommendation once the President referred the NDA representation to him.
The court had issued notice to Centre, Attorney General, Election Commission, Chief Election Commissioner and Chawla in May 2006.
In their representation to the President, 205 NDA MPs had alleged that the Lepra India Trust run by his wife Rupika Chawla had taken donations from Congress MPs out of the MPLADS fund.
They had alleged that a plot of land at Jasola in Delhi was allotted to Chawla for which contribution came from three Congress politicians - Ambika Soni, Karan Singh and A R Kidwai. Besides, a six-acre plot had been allotted to him by Jaipur Development Authority at a throwaway price and the doantions for the construction of the building was made by two MPs from the MPLADS funds.