May 10, 2007 1:14:29 am
Even though the Supreme Court today said that the question whether the President can act on his own without the “aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers on a complaint seeking removal of an Election Commissioner is still a “grey area”, the Government argued that it’s wrong to say the Cabinet has no role to play while deciding the removal of an EC.
The Bench, comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and Dalveer Bhandari, were hearing arguments on a petition filed by senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh challenging the appointment of Navin Chawla as Election Commissioner.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said under Article 324, the President cannot directly send any representation to the CEC and has to act on the Cabinet’s advice. Singh’s counsel Soli Sorbajee argued that under Article 324 (5), the Centre was under a Constitutional obligation to refer the memorandum signed by 205 MPs seeking Chawla’s removal to the CEC.
The Government, in a reply to a query from Justice Bhan as to whether aid and advice of the Council of Ministers was needed if the EC’s office was to be kept independent, said, “Executive Government comes at the initial as well as the final stage of the proceeding for the removal of EC and even after the opinion of the CEC, the recommendation of the Cabinet is required.” If all the complaints for removal of the EC were directly sent to the CEC, it would amount to diminishing the office of EC and putting it to great disadvantage, he said. This is the Executive’s responsibility to go through such representation to find out whether some merit was involved in it or not.
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