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Impeachment for ECs too, says CEC

New Delhi: After the unprecedented recommendation by his predecessor, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla wants the Constitution to be amended so that the removal procedure for the Election Commissioners is made similar to that of the CEC.

Under the Constitution, the CEC can be removed from his office only through the impeachment procedure like a judge of the Supreme Court. It also says that any other Election Commissioners shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC.

Seven months after he assumed charge in the Constitutional post, he considers the amendment as a “last mile” which is a “priority” for him.

In an exclusive interview to PTI, the CEC, who assumed office after the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls soon after the government rejected his predecessor N. Gopalaswami’s recommendations for his removal on the alleged ground of “partisanship”, said he would write to the government making his recommendations for the Constitutional amendment.

“Now after the Supreme Court judgment in the Seshan case and after the statutory amendments, I am firmly of the view that the removal procedure for the other two Commissioners must also be similar to that of the CEC.

Non-serious parties

One important area that Mr. Chawla wants to address is the need to check the growth of non-serious parties. “We have the power to register parties. But we do not have the powers to deregister them. Successive Commissions have been addressing the government on this.”

Media coverage

He said he would like a debate among political parties and the media on sharing time over television channels during elections. Asked about the reported growing trend of newspapers selling space to parties and candidates during elections that could have a bearing on free and fair elections, the CEC said journalist Kuldip Nayar has sought time with the EC to discuss the issue.

Cannot be manipulated

Rejecting suggestions that EVMs could be manipulated, Mr. Chawla said the EC was “absolutely and totally convinced” about the reliability of the EVMs.

To support his argument, he said that in the recent Assembly polls to Maharashtra, an independent candidate in the Latur Assembly constituency demanded that the votes be counted thrice to prove his point that a Trojan horse would be activated. The EC did the counting four times but there was absolutely no change in the tally, he said. — PTI

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