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CEC’s Parting Shot
Collegium should appoint ECs

New Delhi, April 18
As he prepares to leave his office, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami today defended his controversial recommendation for the removal of Navin Chawla, who will succeed him on Tuesday and suggested that future appointments of Election Commissioners be made by a collegium and not the government.

Gopalaswami, who will turn 65 on Monday and demit office that day, has no regrets about his recommendation notwithstanding some jurists’ opinion that it was wrong.

He maintained that though all the Election Commissioners were equal in some respects, Constitutionally there was some “difference” in power to the CEC.

At the outset, the outgoing CEC said he did not want to discuss the issue relating to Chawla, with whom he had running battle in the three-member body especially on the issue of holding assembly polls in Karnataka last year.

“I do not want to go into the question at all. As far as I am concerned, I made a report. The final authority is with the President. The President has taken the final decision. After that there should be absolutely no discussion at all. Period.”

Gopalaswami, who made the unprecedented recommendation for the removal of another Commissioner, was asked if he had the powers to make such a recommendation.

“As far as the legal provision is concerned, I had no doubt at all, notwithstanding some contrary views which came later on. As far as the power of the CEC is concerned, at least I had no doubt at all. This has been confirmed by some jurists also. All that is not an issue anymore,” he said.

The CEC said he had no bitter feelings against Chawla.

“If you are a professional, you take a decision as a professional issue.” On differences in the functioning of the EC, he said the multi-member Commission has had differences in the past too from the days of T N Seshan. “There were differences, but the commission as a whole functioned efficiently”.

To a query whether he would prefer a single-member body or a multi-member body, he said by and large the commission has functioned successfully as a multi-member body. He felt there would be problems in case a single member body if the incumbent has to demit office in the midst of an election process.

Asked whether the President’s decision on Chawla’s issue was the final word, Gopalswami said he was not concerned at all whether the issue was over or not.

“As far as I am concerned, it is the end of the controversy. My Supreme Court (President) has decided and after Supreme Court decides, you don’t go into further enquiry,” he said. — PTI

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CEC defends action against Varun

Defending the action taken against Varun Gandhi, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami today said his controversial speeches in Pilibhit were virulent and "much worse than" what was shown on the television.

"We said file a case and all cases have been filed. So the virulence of the particular incident is such that we had to go beyond what normally we keep as our limit. So we went beyond and said something which I think is perfectly valid as far as I am concerned," he said.

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Suicidal to stagger polls in Maoist areas

N. Gopalaswami today defended the poll panel’s move to include most Maoist affected constituencies in the first leg of elections, saying it would have been “suicidal” if this was spread over another phase.

“We applied our minds to this issue carefully. It would have been suicidal if we had shifted some of the affected constituencies to another phase. Our security forces would have been sitting ducks then,” he said. “It is a totally misplaced argument to suggest that we should have staggered elections in the Naxal affected areas,” Gopalaswami said.

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