Chawla set to be CEC, president refuses to remove him (Second Lead)

March 1st, 2009 - 4:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Navin Chawla is all set to take over as chief election commissioner (CEC) ahead of the April-May Lok Sabha polls with President Pratibha Patil Sunday rejecting the present incumbent N. Gopalaswami’s recommendation to remove him.
Gopalaswami retires April 20 and Chawla, being the next seniormost election commissioner, will preside over the parliamentary polls expected to be held in April-May. The timeline for the polls is likely to be announced shortly.

The CEC had written to the president in January to remove Chawla, triggering an unseemly fracas in the constitutional body and a bitter war of words between the Congress-led government and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Archana Dutta, officer on special duty in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, said the president had taken the decision “after careful consideration” of various aspects, including a report submitted by Gopalaswami seeking Chawla’s removal on grounds of bias.

“The president, after careful consideration of the report of the CEC, government recommendations, constitutional provisions and Supreme Court judgments, has arrived at a considered opinion and has accepted the recommendation of the government (to reject Gopalaswami’s suggestion),” Dutta told IANS.

The issue dates back to March 2006 when senior BJP leader L.K. Advani and 204 MPs submitted a petition to then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam seeking Chawla’s removal.

The petition was sent to the Congress-led government, which saw no merit in it.

The BJP dragged the issue to the Supreme Court but its arguments seemed to make no headway. The petition was withdrawn in August 2007.

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