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The Chief Election Commissioner
heads the Election Commission of India
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous, quasi-judiciary constitutional body of India. Its mission is to conduct free and fair elections in India...
, a body constitutionally empowered to conduct free and fair elections to the national and state legislatures. Chief Election Commissioner of India is usually a member of the Indian Civil Service
The Civil Services of India refer to the civil service and the permanent bureaucracy of the Government of India...
and mostly from the Indian Administrative Service
The Indian Administrative Service is the administrative civil service of the Government of India. It is one of the three All India Services....
The President of India
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...
appoints the Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They enjoy the same official status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India...
. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament
The Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body in India. Founded in 1919, the Parliament alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all political bodies in India. The Parliament of India comprises the President and the two Houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha...
. Despite the recent changes in the hierarchy, the system always had powers to impose unambiguous rules and guidelines that applied across the entire nation e.g. as to how the ballots will be cast and counted, what will be regarded as 'unqualified' vote (something whose importance became very evident during US presidential election in 2000). India was probably one of the first countries in the World to go for a completely electronic ballot in the last elections. What made this remarkable was the fact that the Office of the Chief Election Commissioner had successfully implemented this across the entire diverse Indian population that also consisted of the rural illiterate people.
While the office has always been an important one in the machinery of the Indian political process, it gained significant public attention during the tenure of T.N. Seshan, from 1990-1996. Mr. Seshan is widely credited with undertaking a zealous effort to end corruption and manipulation in Indian elections. Though he made significant progress, several politicians attempted to derail these efforts. In particular, the expansion of the Election Commission to include the two Election Commissioners (in addition to the Chief Commissioner) was seen as a move to curtail the commission's ability to act aggressively.
Chief Election Commissioners
The following have held the post of the Chief Election Commissioner of India :
- Sukumar Sen
Sukumar Sen was an Indian civil servant who was Chief Election Commissioner of India from 21 March 1950 to 19 December 1958. He also served as first Chief Election Commissioner in Nepal and Sudan....
ICS (b. 1899) : 21 March 1950 to 19 December 1958
- K. V. K. Sundaram
Kalyan Vaidyanathan Kuttur Sunderam , also referred as K.V.K. Sundaram, was an Indian civil servant, who holds the record as the first Law Secretary of Independent India and second Chief Election Commissioner of India...
: 20 December 1958 to 30 September 1967
- S. P. Sen Verma : 1 October 1967 to 30 September 1972
- Dr. Nagendra Singh
Maharaj Sri Nagendra Singh was president of the International Court of Justice...
: 1 October 1972 to 6 February 1973
- T. Swaminathan
T. Swaminathan, is a former Chief Election Commissioner of India, serving from February 7, 1973 to June 17, 1977.-External links:*...
: 7 February 1973 to 17 June 1977
- S. L. Shakdhar
S. L. Shakdhar was a Chief Election Commissioner of India and former Secretary-General of 3rd Lok Sabha, 4th Lok Sabha and 5th Lok Sabha . He was Chief Election Commissioner from 1977 to 1982. He hailed from Jammu and Kashmir. He died in 2002....
: 18 June 1977 to 17 June 1982
- R. K. Trivedi : 18 June 1982 to 31 December 1985
- R. V. S. Peri Sastri : 1 January 1986 to 25 November 1990
- V. S. Ramadevi : 26 November 1990 to 11 December 1990
- T. N. Seshan
Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan or T. N. Seshan was born in a Tamil speaking Kerala Iyer family in Thirunellai, Palakkad district, Kerala. He was the 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India from December 12, 1990 to December 11, 1996.-Childhood and education:T. N...
: 12 December 1990 to 11 December 1996
- M. S. Gill
M. S. Gill is an Indian politician, of the Indian National Congress party,has served as the of Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. He represents Punjab in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament....
: 12 December 1996 to 13 June 2001
- J. M. Lyngdoh
James Michael Lyngdoh is an Indian civil servant and was Chief Election Commissioner of India from June 14, 2001 to February 7, 2004. He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2003.- Early life:...
: 14 June 2001 to 7 February 2004
- T. S. Krishnamurthy : 8 February 2004 to 15 May 2005
- B. B. Tandon : 16 May 2005 to 29 June 2006
- N. Gopalaswami
N. Gopalaswami, is a former Chief Election Commissioner of India. He is a 1966 batch Indian Administrative Services officer belonging to Gujarat cadre.He took over the charge of CEC on June 30, 2006 and has retired in April 2009.-Early Life and Education:...
: 30 June 2006 to 20 April 2009
- Navin Chawla
Naveen , a controversial Indian bureaucrat , is a retired chief election commissioner of India. As Chief Election Commissioner, Navin Chawla oversaw the last 4 phases of Indian general election to Loksabha in April–May 2009...
: 21 April 2009 to 29 July 2010
- Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi : 30 July 2010 - till date