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Advani argues for Chawla's removal

Advani argues for Chawla's removal

Author: Indo-Asian News Service
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: February 2, 2009
URL: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Redir.aspx?ID=9ee88a4c-f1de-484b-8ff1-63d7a3906435

Joining the debate over Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami's recommendation to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani has presented a detailed case on his blog in support of the CEC.

"In the context of the current controversy about Navin Chawla, it would be educative to compare Article 124 dealing with the Supreme Court, with Article 324 laying down provisions relating to the Election Commission," said Advani.

Article 124 provides that neither the chief justice of India nor any other judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from office except by a process of impeachment laid down by parliament.

"In case of the Election Commission, however, this kind of protection is provided only to the Chief Election Commissioner, and not to the Election Commissioners," Advani said in his blog on Sunday.

"In case of the other election commissioners the constitution says that they 'shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner'," he added.

Chief Election Commissioner Gopalaswami has written to President Pratibha Patil, recommending Chawla's removal over charges of "partisanship". The president has forwarded the letter to the Prime Minister Chawla, meanwhile, has refused to step down.

Advani wrote: "On behalf of the BJP, Arun Jaitley has rightly argued that the word 'recommendation' used in the second proviso of Article 324(3) must be construed as a binding recommendation.

"Jaitley has drawn attention to Article 217 of the constitution relating to appointment of high court judges where the appointment is to be 'after consultation with the chief justice', the chief justice's views has always been regarded binding," he added.

"The party, therefore, feels that Gopalaswami's recommendation with regard to Navin Chawla must be forthwith accepted by government," Advani said.

He said the current controversy reminded him of a conversation he had had with late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto when she visited New Delhi during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

Advani had asked her: "How is it that though both India's as well as Pakistan's political leadership had imbibed a similar political culture under the British rule, India had managed its democracy with remarkable success but in Pakistan democracy had been a total failure?"

"Benazir's reply was succinct: 'I attribute your country's success to two factors: firstly, your army is apolitical; and secondly, your Election Commission is constitutionally independent of the Executive'," Advani wrote.

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