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Is ECI riven by seniority disorder?

By IndianMandarins- 18 Apr 2019


When senior advocate CA Sundaram, appearing for the EC, told the Apex Court that it had acted against leaders Mayawati, Yogi Adityanath, Maneka Gandhi and Azam Khan for violating the model code of conduct through their controversial statements, the Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi quipped: “So, you have woken up to take action. It seems the EC has got its power back.”


But a section of retired civil servants looks at this development with a different perspective i.e. position, seniority, and experience. This section believes that the three senior-most officers in ECI are not on the same page. Does it mean that the ‘power’ of ECI emanates circumstantially?


Looking at the composition of the constitutional body, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (IAS:1980:RJ) and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa (IAS:1980:HY) and Sushil Chandra (IRS IT:1980) are batchmates but three aspects define their place and position.


Among the three, Chandra has longest experience (over 38 years) in service whereas Lavasa and Arora have 37 and 36 years of experience in administration respectively. As the senior-most Election Commissioner, Arora was made the Chief Election Commissioner but in service (merit list) Lavasa is senior to Arora. In addition, Lavasa served as Secretary in three key ministries and departments (Civil Aviation, MoEF&CC and Expenditure as Finance Secretary designate) whereas Arora served in only two ministries - I&B and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.


Several senior IAS officers look at SC’s remark of ‘regaining its power’ through the prism which reflects service rivalry (in terms of seniority on the merit list).


The service records of the top three in the ECI are as given below:

Sunil Arora (IAS:1980:RJ):

Chief Election Commissioner (w.e.f 02.12.2018); Election Commissioner (w.e.f. 01.09.2017); Secretary I&B and Secretary, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. Total experience- over 36 years.


Ashok Lavasa (IAS:1980:HY):

Election Commissioner (w.e.f. 23.01.2018); Secretary, Dept of Expenditure; Secretary, MOEF&CC; and Secretary, Civil Aviation. Total experience- over 37 years.


Sushil Chandra (IRS IT:1980):

Election Commissioner (w.e.f. 15.02.2019); Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). DG, Investigation as well as Member (Investigation), CBDT. Total experience- over 38 yrs.

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