Vaiko demands `natural justice' for R. Nataraj

Special Correspondent

Appeals to President to set right the conduct of the Election Commission Seeks "fair and free enquiry into the undemocratic action taken by the Chief Election Commissioner"

CHENNAI: Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko has written to the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, "to take necessary steps to set right the conduct of the Election Commission and the CEC so as to re-establish the prestige of the Commission and to restore the public confidence in the Election Commission."

Taking strong exception to what he described as an "inexplicable authoritarian act" the Election Commission ordering the transfer of Chennai Police Commissioner R. Nataraj Mr. Vaiko said in his letter: "Full details are not available on the drastic action by the Chief Election Commissioner. What [are] the contents of the complaint made by the Union Minister? Did the CEC conduct a judicious enquiry? Did he give an opportunity to the police officer concerned to explain his position? Was there natural justice done before dashing out a severe order of punishment? Could it be taken that the Union Minister, A. Raja, belonging to the DMK, was politically motivated to cast [a] slur on the State Government and its officials on the whole?" Mr. Vaiko, now an ally of the ruling party, appealed to the President to have a "fair and free enquiry into the highly improper and undemocratic action taken by the Chief Election Commissioner."

Referring to news reports, the MDMK leader said it was fine to bring officials involved in election related work under a "scanner." But he wanted the "same scanner" on Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, "against whom [a] serious allegation of impropriety and partisanship has been raised." Mr. Vaiko charged that "more than 200 MPs have complained against him for having collected about a crore of rupees from the members. It has been reported that the trust created by Mr. Chawla and his wife, during his tenure as an Administrative Officer in the Union Government had obtained huge financial benefits and sanctions of amounts above a crore of rupees from the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme at the recommendation of some MPs. Strangely all the benevolent MPs happen to belong to a particular political party in power at the Centre."

He said "The action of the Election Commission smacks of unwarranted and unjustifiable interference on the working of the police machinery of Tamil Nadu and it is evident that it is acting more under the Union Ministers than under the august integrity and impartiality of an independent constitutional authority."