If you are appearing for UPSC Prelims and Mains exams, you have to be familiar with the functioning of the government and the civic bodies. The Chief Election Commissioner is known to be the head of the Election Commission which is a body that holds the responsibility to conduct elections in India. The main aim of the Commission is to make sure the elections are conducted freely and without any unfair practices.

In this article, you will find out who appoints the Chief Election Commissioner in India, what are the responsibilities for someone in the position, eligibility criteria, and the duration of a term. You will also find a list of past Chief Election Commissioners Appointed in India and some important facts. This information can be crucial for your IAS preparation for civics.

Who Appoints the Chief Election Commissioner in India?

The Chief Election Commissioner of India is appointed by the President of India. The Election Commission includes two other bodies apart from the Chief Commissioner, namely the Election Commissioners. The tenure of the Election Commissioners is 6 years or up to 65 years of age, depending on whichever is earlier. They receive wages up to 250,000 Rupees per month. They enjoy the same salary perks as the Judges of the Supreme Court of India.

The government of India has not appointed any eligibility rules for the appointment of the Election Commissioners as such. It is however known that they are usually from the Indian Administrative Services, and mostly a member of the India Civil Services.

Powers, Rights, and Duties of the Election Commission

The Election Commission of India holds the power to take the following decisions-

Status of the Party

They can decide whether a political party has to be assigned the status of a national party or regional party.

Poll Expenditure

They can decide upon the expenses set aside for a poll. The limit of the expenses can change from time to time. This power is assigned to the ECI to ensure the wealthy participants do not take unfair advantage of the polling system.

Surprise Situations

In cases of unforeseen circumstances regarding the conduct of elections, the ECI has the power to act if the laws are not applicable in those situations.

Spending of the Candidates

The ECI has the power to enquire about the expenditure done on the elections by the candidates.

Candidate Information

The ECI can publish the particulars of the candidates that are relevant to the elections. They can do so in the interest of the voters who have the right to know the particulars of the candidate who would be representing them in the Parliament.

Voting Trends

The power to forbid the circulation of publication of voting trends such as opinion polls or exit polls is in the hands of the Commission.

Transfer of the Employees

To ensure the conduct of fair elections, the ECI can transfer or relieve certain government employees or officers until the elections are finished.

Elections’ Schedule

They have the right to schedule elections. If the circumstances call for it, they can postpone the elections.

Convicted Participants

The Commission has the power to ban convicted candidates and prevent those from criminal backgrounds from contesting the elections to decriminalise politics.

Disqualification of Party Members

They have the right to have discussions with the President and Governor if they find the need to have a member from the Parliament or the State Legislature to be disqualified.

List of Former Chief Election Commissioners

Do you know who was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India? Take a look at the list of former Chief Election Commissioners in India and their terms.



Sukumar Sen

21 March 1950- 19 December 1958

Kalyan Sundaram

20 December 1958- 30 September 1967

S.P. Sen Verma

1 October 1967- 30 September 1972

Nagendra Singh

1 October 1972- 6 February 1973

T. Swaminathan

7 February 1972- 17 June 1982

S.L. Shakhar

18 June 1977- 17 June 1982

R.K. Trivedi

18 June 1982- 31 December 195

R.V.S. Peri Sastri

1 January 1986- 25 November 1990

V.S. Ramadevi

26 November 1990- 11 December 1990

T.N. Seshan

12 December 1990- 11 December 1996

M.S. Gill

12 December 1996- 13 June 2001

James Michael Lyngdoh

14 June 2001- 7 February 2004

T.S. Krishnamurthy

8 February 2004- 15 May 2005

B.B. Tandon

16 May 2005- 29 June 2006

N. Gopalaswamy

30 June 200- 20 April 2009

Navin Chawla

21 April 2009- 29 July 2010

S. Y. Quraishi

30 July 2010- 10 June 2012

V. S. Sampath

11 June 2012- 15 January 2015

Harish Shankar Brahma

16 January 2015- 18 April 2015

Nasim Zaidi

19 April 2015- 5 July 2017

Achal Kumar Jyoti

6 July 2017- 22 January 2018

Om Prakash Rawat

23 January 2018- 1 December 2018

Sunil Arora

2 December 2018- Present

Key Takeaways and Some Facts

What is the Election Commission?

The Election Commission is an autonomous authority that supervises elections for the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, State Legislative Councils, and the offices to the President and the Vice President.

Who gives the Authority to the Election Commission to act?

Under Article 324 of the Indian Constitution, the Commission is given the authority to take appropriate actions when the pre-existing laws make insufficient provisions to deal with certain situations occurring during elections.

When was the Election Commission Established?

The Commission was established in 1950 with Sukumar Sen as the Chief officer.

What is the Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1986?

The Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989 was adopted on 1 January 1990. While the idea of introducing two new officers was introduced in 1989 itself, the officers appointed had a short tenure and the Act was later taken into consideration.

Also Read: Things to Know about the President of India

Who was the Only Lady Chief Election Commissioner of India?

V.S. Ramadevi was the first and the only (till date) lady Chief Election Commissioner of India.

Which of the Officers is known for his Contribution against Corruption?

T.N. Seshan (Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan) was known for his outstanding efforts towards getting rid of unfair practices and corruption in the elections.

Which of the Former Commissioners was known for his Contribution towards the EVMs?

Manohar Singh Gill (M.S. Gill) was awarded a Padma Vibhushan for his work on this post. It was during his tenure that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were first introduced.

Who Assists the Three Election Commissioners?

The Election Commissioners work along with Deputy Election Commissioners.

How are the Election Commissioners Chosen?

The Commissioners are mostly retired IAS officers.

Who Allots Election Symbols to the Candidates?

The Commission is responsible for distribution and allotment of election symbols to the candidates.

Also Read: Know Everything about Lok Sabha Elections, Composition, and Members


The article aimed at helping you understand the functioning of the Election Commission, and the Chief Election Commissioner of India. This article can be referred to while preparing for the UPSC Prelims. You can write to us for more such topics you would like to know about.

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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