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Chief Election Commissioner of India

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Title: Chief Election Commissioner of India  
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Subject: Sukumar Sen (civil servant), S. Y. Quraishi, R. V. S. Peri Sastri, India Rejuvenation Initiative, Kalyan Sundaram
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Chief Election Commissioner of India

Chief Election Commissioner of India
VS Sampath

since 11 June 2012[1]
Nominator Government of India
Appointer President of India
Term length 6 yrs or up to 65 yrs of age
(whichever is earlier)
Salary 90,000 (US$1,500) monthly[2][3]
Website The Election Commission of India

The Chief Election Commissioner heads the Election Commission of 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 and mostly from the Indian Administrative Service. It is very difficult to remove the authority of the Chief Election Commissioner once elected by the President, as two-thirds of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha need to vote against him for disorderly conduct or improper actions.

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 commissioner's ability to act aggressively.

Appointment and removal

The President of India (based on a recommendation from incumbent Govt of India) appoints the Chief Election Commissioner. Conventionally, senior-most Election Commissioner is appointed as CEC. He has tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. He enjoys the same official status, salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India and High court. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed only through impeachment by the Parliament.[4]

Suggested reforms

In June 2012, Lal Krishna Advani a veteran Indian politician and former Deputy Prime Minister of India (as well as former Leader of the Opposition in Indian Parliament)[5] suggested that appointment of CEC (as well as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)) should be made by a bipartisan collegium consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Law Minister and the Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.[6][7] Subsequently, M Karunanidhi, the head of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party and five times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu[8] supported the suggestion. Advani made this demand to remove any impression of bias or lack of transparency and fairness because, according to him, the current system was open to "manipulation and partisanship".[6][7] Similar demand was made by many former CEC's such as B B Tandon, N Gopalaswamy and S Y Quraishi,[9]


By the "Election Commission (Condition Of Service Of Election Commissions And Transaction Of Business) Act, 1991", the salary of the chief election commissioner is the same as salary of a Judge of Supreme Court of India.[2]

Salary of Chief Election Commissioner
Date Salary
1 January 2006 90,000 (US$1,500)[2][3]

Chief Election Commissioners

The following have held the post of the Chief Election Commissioner of India.[10]

List of Chief Election Commissioners
# Name Portrait Took Office Left Office
1 Sukumar Sen 21 March 1950 19 December 1958
2 Kalyan Sundaram 20 December 1958 30 September 1967
3 S. P. Sen Verma 1 October 1967 30 September 1972
4 Nagendra Singh 1 October 1972 6 February 1973
5 T. Swaminathan 7 February 1973 17 June 1977
6 S. L. Shakdhar 18 June 1977 17 June 1982
7 R. K. Trivedi 18 June 1982 31 December 1985
8 R. V. S. Peri Sastri 1 January 1986 25 November 1990
9 V. S. Ramadevi 26 November 1990 11 December 1990
10 T. N. Seshan 12 December 1990 11 December 1996
11 M. S. Gill 12 December 1996 13 June 2001
12 J. M. Lyngdoh 14 June 2001 7 February 2004
13 T. S. Krishnamurthy 8 February 2004 15 May 2005
14 B. B. Tandon 16 May 2005 29 June 2006
15 N. Gopalaswami 30 June 2006 20 April 2009
16 Navin Chawla 21 April 2009 29 July 2010
17 S. Y. Quraishi 30 July 2010 10 June 2012
18 V. S. Sampath 10 June 2012 incumbent


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Election Commission (Condition Of Service Of Election Commissions And Transaction Of Business) Act, 1991". Vakil No. 1. Retrieved 17 Sep 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "The High Court and Supreme Court Judges Salaries and Conditions of Service Amendment Bill 2008". PRS India. 
  4. ^ "About ECI". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Members Bioprofile". Lok Sabha of India/National Informatics Centre, New Delhi. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Karunanidhi backs Advani's view on collegium to appoint CAG, EC". Times of India. 5 Jun 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Karunanidhi backs Advani's plea for collegium". The Hindu (Chennai). 5 June 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  8. ^ "DMK's Official Homepage-Chennai-Tamilnadu-India 800x600 screen resolution". 9 December 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  9. ^ "Ex-CECs backed collegium, Law Ministry not too keen". Indian Express. 10 Jun 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Previous Chief Election Commissioners". Election Commission of India. 
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