Election Commissioner OP Rawat has recused himself from all cases pending before the polling monitor that are related to the Aam Aadmi Party, PTI reported on Thursday. His decision comes after AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in an interview, questioned the Election Commission’s impartiality and independence.
“I have recused myself so that he [Kejriwal] can have faith in the independence of the institution,” Rawat told PTI, adding that the party and all citizens should have full faith in the EC. “I thought it was the right thing to do.”
He had announced his decision in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Wednesday. “I hereby recuse myself from all cases pertaining to AAP so Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP not only get justice, but also perceive that the Election Commission has been fair beyond any shred of doubt,” he wrote, according to The Indian Express. His move stemmed from the need “to uphold the public perception of impartiality and objectivity of the Election Commission of India”. “This institution’s credibility has to be maintained and it has to be impeccable.”
The EC is hearing two cases related to AAP legislators holding office of profit. Kejriwal has alleged that two of the three election commissioners are close to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. “One of the election commissioners, AK Joti, was chief secretary of Gujarat under [Narendra] Modi. The second election commissioner [Rawat] is from Madhya Pradesh and is very close to [Chief Minister] Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
As many as 21 AAP MLAs face disqualification after President Pranab Mukherjee on June 13, 2016, rejected the Delhi government’s Bill that had sought to exempt the post of parliamentary secretary from the dual office of profit law. The legislators had been appointed parliamentary secretaries in 2015, though the Indian Constitution prohibits lawmakers from holding an office that would allow them to benefit financially.