Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Navin B. Chawla on Thursday demitted office with Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath praising him for his guidance, and for taking all the decisions in tune with the opinions of the full Commission. They felt there was “consensus” in every decision of the Commission.
Mr. Quraishi will take over as the 17th CEC on Friday.
An overwhelmed Mr. Chawla told The Hindu that he considered himself fortunate to have been at the helm of affairs of “one of our finest institutions [Commission]” and also conduct the Election Commission's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on January 25 this year. Highest constitutional authorities, led by President Pratibha Patil, and practically the entire Opposition parties were present in the programme to showcase the strength of “our democracy and the respect with which the Commission is held in.”
Thirty-five representatives of election commissions of various countries attended the function and many of them praised the EC.
Mr. Chawla thanked all those who participated in the electoral process or helped to conduct it with integrity, dignity and honour.
Earlier, the officers and the entire staff of the Commission gave a farewell, and the other two Commissioners saw Mr. Chawla off in the evening. Later, he called on Ms. Patil and formally took leave.
Sources said there could be some delay in the appointment of a new Election Commissioner as the government was not able to arrive at the decision, those at the helm of affairs feeling that it had been a while since a representative from the North-East region occupied the constitutional post. The last to occupy was James Michael Lyngdoh, who demitted office as CEC on February 7, 2004.