Recently, in the case of ‘Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India (2023)’, the Supreme court of India pronounced an historic decision when it changed the procedure of the appointment of Election Commissioner of India and held that ECI shall be appointed by a committee consisting of Prime minister of India, Leader of Opposition, and Chief Justice of India.
One of the contention raised in the case by the petitioner, was that most of the election commissioners are appointed from bureaucracy, but, Election commissioners should also be appointed from other fields like judiciary.
Here is a timeline of Indian election commissioners from the time of Ist Election commissioner, with their affiliations and term-
- In the year 1951, Shri Sukumar Sen was appointed as the first Chief Election Commissioner of India. He was a Civil Servant and a former Chief Secretary of the State of West-Bengal. His term was to last for eight years and two hundred and seventy-three days.
- Shri Kalyan Sundaram, the second Chief Election Commissioner, again a Civil Servant, the first Law Secretary and who also chaired the Indian Law Commission for the period from 1968 to 1971, was appointed as Chief Election Commissioner on 20.12.1958 and his term terminated on 30.09.1967. It is noteworthy that his term also lasted eight years and two hundred and eighty-four days.
- Shri S.P. Sen Verma was the third Chief Election Commissioner and he was appointed on 01.10.1967 and he continued till 30.09.1972 (his term lasted for five years).
- Shri Nagendra Singh, a Civil Servant and a Member of the Constituent Assembly and who, later on, became the Judge of the International Court of Justice, had a short tenure as the fourth Chief Election Commissioner from 01.10.1972 to 06.02.1973 (his term lasted for one hundred and twenty-eight days).
- The fifth Chief Election Commissioner was Shri T. Swaminathan, who was also a Civil Servant, having become a Cabinet Secretary as well and his stint as Chief Election Commissioner was from 07.02.1973 to 17.06.1977 (his term lasted for four years and ten days).
- Shri S.L. Shakdher was appointed as the Sixth Chief Election Commissioner. He was also a Civil Servant and Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. His term commenced on 18.06.1977 and expired on 17.06.1982 (his term lasted for four years and three hundred and sixty-four days).
- Shri R. K. Trivedi, the Seventh Chief Election Commissioner, was also a Civil Servant, and he had a term of three years and one hundred and ninety- six days.
- Shri R.V.S. Perishastri was the Eighth Chief Election Commissioner. He was the Secretary to Government and his term lasted from 01.01.1986 till 25.11.1990. It was for the first time that Election Commissioners, two in number, viz., Shri V. S. Seigell and Shri S. S. Dhanoa came to be appointed as Election Commissioners on 16.10.1989.
- Smt. V.S. Ramadevi, who had the shortest tenure as the ninth Chief Election Commissioner was drawn from the Civil Services. Her term lasted for sixteen days.
- The Tenth Chief Election Commissioner was none other than Shri T. N. Sheshan, who was the Eighteenth Cabinet Secretary of India and had a term of six years commencing from 12.12.1990 till 11.12.1996.
- With the term of Shri T. N. Seshan coming to an end 11.12.1996, the trend began of appointing the Election Commissioners as Chief Election Commissioners. Thus, Shri M.S. Gill became the Chief Election Commissioner. Shri M.S. Gill was also a Civil Servant. He served as Chief Election Commissioner for a period of four years and sixty-nine days, i.e., from 12.12.1996 till 13.06.2001.
- Shri James Michael Lyngdoh became an Election Commissioner in the year 1997 and was made the Chief Election Commissioner on 14.06.2001, on the expiry of the term of Shri M.S. Gill, and he continued till 07.02.2004 (the term lasted two years and two hundred and sixty-nine days).
Thereafter, we may notice, for the period 2000 to 2022, the details of the Election Commissioners and the Chief Election Commissioners and the length of the tenure, which is as follows:
|Name of the Commissioner||Tenure as EC||Tenure as CEC||Length of Tenure|
|T.S. Krishnamurthy||Jan 2000- 7Fab 2004||8Fab 2004- 15 May2005||5years 3 months 16 days|
|B.B. Tandon||13June 2001- 15/05/2005||16/05/2005- 29/06/2006||5 yrs 17 days|
|N. Gopalaswamy||08/02/2004- 29/06/2006||30/06/2006- 20/04/2009||5 yrs 2 months 13 days|
|Navin B. Chawla||16/05/2005- 20/04/2009||21/04/2009- 29/07/2010||5 yrs 2 months 14 days|
|S.Y. Qurashi||30/06/2006- 29/07/2010||30/07/2010- 10/06/2012||5 yrs 11 months 12 days|
|V.S. Sampath||21/04/2009- 10/06/2012||11/06/2012- 15/01/2015||5 yrs 8 months 26 days|
|H.S. Brahma||24/08/2010- 15/01/2015||16/01/2015-18/04/2015||4 years 7 months 26 days|
|Nasim Zaidi||07.01.2012- 19.04.2015||18.04.2015- 05.07.2017||4 yrs 10 mts 29 days|
|Achal Kumar Joti||07.05.2010- 6.07.2017||08.07.2012- 02.01.2018||2 years 8mts 16 days|
|O.P. Rawat||14.08.2012- 3.01.2018||22.01.2010- 1.12.2018||3 yrs 5 mts 18 days|
|Sunil Arora,||31.08.2010- 2.12.2018||02 December 2018|
12 April 2021
|Sushil Chandra||15.02.2011- 3.04.2021||13 April 2021|
14 May 2022
|Rajiv Kumar||01.09.2021- 5.05.2022||18.02.2022-14.05.2022 (expected)||—-|