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Poll chief seeks parity in removal process of commissioners

New Delhi, Jan 27 (Calcutta Tube) Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Navin Chawla Wednesday said he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring the process of removal of election commissioners on par with the poll panel chief’s.

‘I have written recently to the prime minister for equalisation of (the) removal process of election commissioners on par with my removal process,’ Chawla told reporters on the sidelines of an international symposium on ‘International Best Electoral Practices’.

The symposium was organised as part of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Election Commission of India.

Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi had last week suggested that the procedure of removal of election commissioners should be the same as the Chief Election Commissioner as they enjoyed similar powers. He had also referred to the controversy over the recommendation made by former CEC N. Gopalaswami last year to remove Navin Chawla from the post of election commissioner. The president had rejected Gopalaswami’s recommendation.

Under the present provisions, while the poll panel chief can only be removed through impeachment like a judge of the Supreme Court, the CEC can recommend removal of an election commissioner to the government.

Chawla said the three-member poll panel had debated several issues concerning elections but had not yet written its views to the government.

Answering queries about compulsory voting, the CEC said it was not possible to implement it for a general election. ‘Is it feasible for general election? In my view not.’

He said that unorganised labour formed a sizeable part of the population and wondered if a medical certificate would have to be collected in case a mother was unable to come for voting due to sickness of her child.

He said the Commission was creating voting awareness through voter education.

Asked about Gujarat making voting compulsory in the local body elections, he said the decision was in the domain of the state election authority, which was an independent electoral body.

The CEC said that discussions at the international symposium had been ‘extremely fruitful’.

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