UPSC Current Affairs

T.N Seshan

T.N Seshan - Ekam IAS

T.N Seshan

“A person like T.N Seshan happens once in a while” : SC

Who is he? What did he do?

The Supreme Court said it wants a Chief Election Commission of strong character like the late T.N Seshan.

Who was T.N Seshan?
  • Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan, or T.N Seshan, was the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) from December 12, 1990 till December 11, 1996.
  • He was born in the Palakkad district of Kerala.
  • He breathed his last on November 10, 2019, in Chennai.
  • He also unsuccessfully contested the presidential elections against K R Narayanan in 1997.
  • He was widely credited for ushering in electoral reforms that changed the face of Indian elections.
How did he reform the Indian electoral system?
  • At the time when the Election Commission was formed, it was not more than an observer of elections until 1990.
  • When Seshan became CEC in 1990, he enforced the authority of the EC as per its powers laid out in the Constitution.
  • He changed the process of conducting elections in the nation and introduced a list of 150 malpractices during elections.
  • These includes distribution of liquor, bribing voters, ban on writing on walls, use of religion in election speeches etc.
  • He introduced voter ID cards, the Model Code of Conduct, and enforced a limit to poll expenses.
T.N Seshan vs. Union of India (1995)
  • In 1993, the then government brought in an Ordinance with the President’s assent under Article 342(2) of the Indian Constitution fixing the number of EC’s at two and appointed two EC’s.
  • Seshan opposed and approached the Supreme Court alleging that the move was introduced to curb his powers.
  • The court dismissed his petition, and clearly envisages a multi-member Election Commission comprising the CEC and one or more ECs.”

In 1996, Seshan received the Ramon Magsaysay Award (regarded as Asia’s Nobel prize) for his role in cleaning up the electoral process in the country.

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