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ROW IN ECI; WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS

ROW IN ECI; WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS

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Published by Om Prakash Yadav
The row in ECI amongst CEC and other commissioners are not new and occurs frequently. What is the legal position
The row in ECI amongst CEC and other commissioners are not new and occurs frequently. What is the legal position

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Published by: Om Prakash Yadav on Sep 20, 2009
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01/29/2010

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ROW IN ELECTION COMMISSIONOF INDIA TAKES POLITICAL TUNE
 The row in Election Commission of India is not new. The row betweencommissioners and CEC takes heavy toll in terms of erosion of authority.Why does such quarrelling take place; what are legal position of CEC andcommissioners vis-a-vis the ECI.
Om Prakash Yadav
 The row in Election Commission of India(ECI) has taken a political tune as all the majorpolitical parties are playing their own lyricsorchestrated by political music. The insidebickering in ECI is not new and has beenoccurring time and again. The first majorcontroversy arose during T.N. Seshan’s regimewhen Seshan and Krishnamurti, one of the thenEC locked their horns in order to establish theirown hegemony and run their own writs. The present row originated owing to theletter which the CEC, has written to the Presidentof India recommending the removal of NavinChawala, the EC for his alleged acts ocommission and omission under article 324 (5) of Indian Constitution. This letter sparked off amajor political controversy because the BJP hascome openly in rescue of N. Gopalswami,
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whereas; Congress and other UPA constituentshave pledged their support to Navin Chawala. This controversy has incited a debate also inlegal luminaries and judicial domain. The issuewhich has again come to fore is that whether ornot the CEC can suo motto initiate inquiry andrecommend the removal of the other ECs? Thequestion has become vexed also because theprovisions of the Constitution in this regard aresomewhat translucent on this issue.Article 324 of the Indian constitution provides forthe superintendence, direction and control of election to be vested in the Election commission.Clause 5 of this Article provides for ‘the Subjectto the provisions of any law made by theParliament, the conditions of service and tenureof office of the Election Commissioners and theRegional Commissioners shall be such as thePresident may by rule determine:Provided that the Chief Election Commissionershall not be removed from his office except inlike manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of serviceof the Chief Election Commissioner shall not bevaried to his disadvantage after his appointment:Provided further that any other ElectionCommissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall
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not be removed from office except on therecommendation of the Chief ElectionCommissioner. The above provision makes it amply clear thatthe ECs can be removed by the President, theappointing authority, but the CEC can only beremoved by a process of impeachment similar tothat of a Supreme Court Judge. The message isclear; the father of constitution has conferred onadequate amount of independence on the ECIand also has guaranteed protection to it againstany undue political and executive interference. Itis also a fact that the CEC and ECs are equal, CECbeing the first among the equals, this however donot bring all the ECs at par with the CEC.It seems that the principle of check and balanceas well as superiority and subordination blendedwith administrative hierarchical concept has beenenshrined in the above provisions of theconstitution. The Criminal Procedure Code(Cr.P.C.) of 1973 can be taken into account toexplain above principle. Section 20 of this codeprovides for appointment of ExecutiveMagistrates and the District Magistrates. Itspeaks of the principle that District Magistrate isalso an executive magistrate and all executivemagistrates are equal, but the district magistrateis first among the equals. Further section 21, 22
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