Law Ministry cannot control EC: Quraishi



New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the recent controversy between the Election Commission and the Law ministry over the latter claiming control over it, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on Monday made it clear that this cannot happen as EC is a Constitutionally independent body.

Describing the Law Ministry as a nodal body, he said there is no way Government can think of controlling the EC.

"It is only a nodal ministry. The Law ministry is also a nodal ministry for the Supreme Court. But if they think of controlling the Supreme Court or even the Election Commission...No Way. That cannot happen," he said at a function here.

He said there is "tendency of a government to try and control institutions which they can...The Constitution has made it (EC) a very independent institution."

Quraishi's comments come days after the spat between him and Law Minister Salman Khurshid after the latter's claimed his ministry had "control" over the EC.

Irked over Khurshid's comments, the CEC had complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had written back upholding the independence of the Constitutional authority.

Quraishi, who had also taken strong exception to Khurshid's sub-quota remarks during the UP polls and had taken up the issue with President Pratibha Patil, said the "unprecedented" situation at that time warranted such a step.

"Here was a Law Minister who was challenging the authority of a constitutional body, whose powers have also been upheld by the Supreme Court. That amounted to a very unprecedented situation...What we did was right," Quraishi said.

Responding to questions after delivering the 40th Shri Ram memorial lecture here today on 'Democracy and Governance - The current context', Quraishi said the Law Minister challenging the EC was a totally "different issue" but added that it was now a "closed chapter".

"The Law Minister saying 'hang me if you can' was a different issue. This was not a violation of the Model Code... He was challenging the EC's authority... We had to refer the matter to the President... After that, he (Khurshid) did make apologise publicly," Quraishi said.

PTI