The Centre has appointed Navin Chawla as chief election commissioner with effect from April 20, 2009. Chawla is currently in Lucknow to review the poll arrangements.
Chawla will take over as the next Chief Election Commissioner on April 20, succeeding N Gopalaswami who will retire on that day. Chawla, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1969 batch, will hold charge till July 29, 2010.
“The President has approved the appointment of Navin Chawla as the Chief Election Commissioner with effect from April 20 on completion of the tenure of N Gopalaswami,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said here today. Chawla, who will be taking over in the midst of the five-phased Lok Sabha elections, will oversee four phases of the polls. The elevation of Chawla, who was appointed as Election Commissioner on May 13,2005, comes after a controversy triggered by Gopalaswami’s recommendation to the President for his removal from office for alleged “partisan” functioning.
Chawla has been elevated to CEC’s post on the advice of the government which had rejected Gopalaswami’s plea for his removal, saying there was no merit in the allegations against the Election Commissioner.
The Chief Election Commissioner, a Constitutional post, enjoys a term of six years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Chawla has earlier served in various capacities in the government during his chequered career, the last being Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. He has also served as Secretary to the Union Public Service Commission.
Chawla has authored a number of books, including an authorised biography of Mother Teresa which became popular internationally. Chawla is also a recipient of the Italian government’s Mazzini Award, instituted in honour of writer Giuseppe Mazzini, for his contribution to promote ties between India and Italy. After Gopalaswami’s retirement, the government will have to appoint a third Election Commissioner.