New Delhi: Coming out in defence of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, whose removal has been demanded by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Union government on Friday said only the appointing authority had the powers to do so.

In the wake of the BJP approaching Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami, Law and Justice Minister H.R. Bhardwaj disclosed that the government was considering a proposal to amend the Constitution for granting equal powers to all the three members of the Commission. “A proposal would be sent to the Cabinet soon.”

“The demand for removal of Mr. Chawla is a political manoeuvre ... and I am fully satisfied with the conduct of the EC [Mr. Chawla],” Mr. Bhardwaj said. He was asked about the BJP’s contention that the CEC had the powers to remove Mr. Chawla.

The government has taken the stand before the Supreme Court that an Election Commissioner can be removed only by the President, the appointing authority, and the CEC has no such power. Mr. Bhardwaj said a “constitutional package” could be brought about to bring the two Election Commissioners on a par with the CEC.— PTI

BJP will oppose move

Special Correspondent reports:

Reacting to Mr. Bhardwaj’s statement, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “The comment by the Law Minister establishes the close link between Mr. Chawla and the Congress. If it goes to the extent of attempting amendment of the Constitution to save a partisan EC, the BJP shall fight it tooth and nail.”

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