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SC seeks explanation over EC appointment

The Court seeks to know from the petitioners challenging appointment of Navin B Chawla as EC if the representation for his removal can directly be submitted to the CEC, reports Satya Prakash.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2007 23:06 IST
Satya Prakash

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought to know from the petitioners challenging the appointment of Navin B Chawla as Election Commissioner if the representation for his removal can directly be submitted to the Chief Election Commissioner.

A bench of justices Ashok Bhan and Justice VS Sirpurkar posed the question to senior counsel Arun Jaitley, who is appearing for Samajwadi Party MP Chandrabhan Singh, one of the petitioners in the case, after he submitted that the President was under constitution obligation to seek the CEC’s recommendation on the representation of 205 NDA MPs.

Jaitley said he would consult senior counsel Soli J Sorabjee, who is representing another petitioner senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh and get back to the court. He submitted that since the CEC dealt with the Election Commissioner on day-to-day basis, he could be the best authority to advice the President on any memorandum against the EC as his opinion would be free from the interference of the executive.

Jaswant Singh and Chandrabhan Singh have sought Chawla's removal 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 would on Thursday explain why the Union Cabinet did not send its advice to the then President APJ Abdul Kalam on the NDA MPs’ representation for Chawla’s removal. "Did you send your advice to the President?" the bench had asked the centre on Tuesday.

"It is not an ordinary representation. It’s is a representation signed by 205 MPs. It should have been sent to the President. It’s a must…" the bench had observed. It wanted to know why after vetting the representation, the Cabinet chose not to give its advice one way or the other to the President.

Petitioners contended that under Article 324(5) of the Constitution, the President is bound to seek recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner on any such representation and the government adopted the wrong procedure of sending it to the Cabinet.

However, the government maintained that there was no need to take any action on the representation of NDA MPs to remove Chawla as he has not incurred disqualification.

In its affidavit filed in the court, the Centre had contended that the President was not obliged to obtain the recommendations of the CEC on any representation for removal of an Election Commissioner. However, it said the opinion of the CEC was to be sought only if the government found the allegations to be "intelligible and cogent".