Navin Chawla

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Navin Chawla
Chief Election Commissioner of India
In office
21 April 2009 – 29 July 2010
Preceded by N. Gopalaswami
Succeeded by S. Y. Quraishi
Personal details
Born (1945-07-30) 30 July 1945 (age 70)
Nationality Indian
Alma mater The Lawrence School, Sanawar, St. Stephen's College, Delhi, London School of Economics
Occupation Civil servant
Religion Hinduism

Navin Chawla is a former Chief Election Commissioner of India.[1] Four phases (out of five) of the Indian general election to Loksabha were executed under his supervision in April and May 2009.[2]

Chawla is best known for his biography of Mother Teresa and for conducting the 2009 general elections in an even-handed manner to national and international acclaim. President Obama congratulated India for this election. The Shah Commission, an independent commission headed by former Chief Justice of India Jayantilal Chhotalal Shah which investigated atrocities during the Emergency, said in its final report that Chawla was "unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others".[3][4][5][6][7] However, the report was suppressed after Gandhi returned to power in 1980;[8] as Prime Minister, she "recalled all reports of Shah Commission wherever possible".[9] The Delhi High Court ( Justice TPS Chawla) dismissed the Report of the Shah Commission. Despite concerns about his leanings towards the Congress Party Chawla conducted the in an even-handed manner, with action taken against alleged malpractice by Congress governments in Rajasthan, Assam and Andhra Pradesh and the Congress Allied government in Tamil Nadu.[10][11][12] According to his family, Chawla was influenced by Mother Teresa and decided not to resign from the civil service in 1997 in accordance with her advice.[13]

Early life and education[edit]

Chawla was born on 30 July 1945 in New Delhi. He studied at the Lawrence School, Sanawar, Himachal Pradesh from 1953 to 1961[14] (when he received his Senior School Certificate), and received a Government of India scholarship for his first two years at the Lawrence School. Chawla received a B.A. (Hons.) in history from St. Stephen's College, Delhi in 1966 and a B.A. (Hons.) in history from London University in 1967. He received a diploma in social administration from the London School of Economics in 1968. Chawla was appointed a Fellow of Queen Elizabeth House at Oxford University in 1996.[citation needed]


Chawla is an Indian Administrative Service officer from the class of 1969. He was appointed election commissioner in 2005, succeeding B. B. Tandon (who was promoted to Chief Election Commissioner of India). Chawla was in office from 16 May 2005 to 30 July 2010. His association with Mother Teresa resulted in his writing her official biography, Mother Teresa.[15]

Earlier posts[edit]

He occupied a number of post both in the Central Government as well as Union Territories of Delhi, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry. He rose to the highest levels becoming Additional Secretary and Secretary to the Government of India. These top level appointments were made interestingly during the Prime Ministership under the NDA Government headed by Prime Minister Vajpayee of the BJP

As election commissioner[edit]

Chawla has undertaken reforms of the electoral process and the election commission. He advocated a constitutional process for the removal of election commissioners, bringing it in line with that for removal of the chief election commissioner.[16] Chawla was interested in ensuring that third gender individuals had the right to vote. They had been left out of the democratic process, since they could not register as male or female; they can register as “other”. The issue was broached by students at KIIT Law School, Bhubaneswar.[17][18][19][20] He supported regulating the participation in the electoral process of those on trial. People on trial are not allowed to vote; however, they may stand for election until convicted.[21]

Association with Mother Teresa[edit]

Deeply influenced by Mother Teresa, he wrote her bestselling biography (translated in 14 languages). Substantial royalties have been donated to the cause of leprosy. Because of her influence, he has setup two NGO’s which provide free medicines to leprosy patients, and free vocational training to healthy children of leprosy parents, and also disabled and poor kids. Presently, 120 such kids and youth attend the Lepra India Trust School in Delhi. 52 Hearing Impaired children attend at the ‘Darshan School’ In Jaipur. Older boys and girls are taught computer software and helped with employment. All services are free.

Societal Contributions[edit]

Chawla and his wife Rupika ran the Jaipur-based Lala Chaman Lal Education Trust, called Darshan,looks after disabled hearing impaired children. which had obtained MPLADS funds from Congress MPs Akbar Ali Khan, R. P. Goenka, Ambika Soni, Karan Singh and A. R. Kidwai.[22] The trust was allotted 6 acres (24,000 m2) of land by the Congress government in Rajasthan when Ashok Gehlot was Chief Minister.[23][24]
Navin Chawla is running an another trust called 'Lepra India Trust' in Delhi treats leprosy affected cases. The trust also teaches hear impaired children and children belonging to poor family. All conditions under the MPLAD act are scrupulously adhered too.

Navin Chawla was invited on February 16, 2015 to distribute 'Smart Canes' to visually impaired students of Delhi University, during the course of the Antardhwani festival. An important part of the festival that mattered greatly to the cause of disability, was distribution of "smart canes" to the first batch of visually impaired students. By June, it was hoped to distribute these canes to all those suffering from visual disability, including students and teachers alike, numbering about 200.

Chawla has endorsed Justice A.P. Shah, Chairman of the Law Commission’s recent recommendation that the 117 year old Lepers Act is highly discriminatory and must be removed from the statute book, and replaced by a more humane law that takes into account that leprosy is now fully curable. A new law also needs to be implemented with understanding and compassion.

Alleged links with Congress[edit]

In March 2006 the National Democratic Alliance presented the President of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, with a memorandum for his removal signed by over 200 MPs. The memorandum questioned his impartiality in light of alleged links with the Indian National Congress. After examination by the Congress government, no action was taken.[25]

Apprehensive about Chawla's alleged links to the Gandhi Family, in May 2006 Jaswant Singh, opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, appealed to the Supreme Court of India for Chawla's removal as election commissioner because of his lifelong association with Congress politicians and the MPLADS controversy.[26] The chief election commissioner (CEC) filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court that he had the power to remove an election commissioner (EC). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) then withdrew its petition. The Supreme Court ruled, “We are allowing withdrawal of the petitions while keeping open all questions [raised in the petitions]. They can make representation to the CEC, who will decide such representation in accordance with law. We are not expressing any opinion on merits”.[27]

On 31 January 2009, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami unusally received a small NDA delegarion in his private chamber. Based on that, sent his recommendation about Chawla's removal as election commissioner to the President of India.[28] Based on that the CEC alleged that Chawla had discharged his duties as election commissioner in a partisan manner, seeking to further the interests of "one party". The CEC report said Chawla leaked confidential information about the election commission to Congress Party officials.[29] He is also reported to have opposed the election commission's notice to Sonia Gandhi for accepting honours from Belgium.[30]

The CEC, N Gopalaswam's recommendation against Chawla was in itself seen as controversial, by several eminent Jurists [31] and it was rejected by the President of India. Chawla became CEC of India on 20 April 2009, and concluded the 2009 Indian Parliamentary Election.[32]

Two BJP lawyers and office bearers tried to petition a local Jaipur court for an FIR against Chawla and senior officials of the government of Rajasthan about the allotment of land to Chawla's trusts in Jaipur by the Jaipur Development Authority in 2000. The court declined to order the filing of an FIR; in an order dated 10 February 2009, the Court said it was satisfied by a Police investigation that there was nothing wrong. The Court dismissed the complaint.[33][34]


  • 2005 Mazzini Award from the government of Italy "in recognition of his efforts to forge a new relationship with Italy and strengthening existing bonds""Italy honours Navin Chawla". The Hindu. 18 March 2005. 
  • 2004 award from the New Delhi Institution of Directors
  • NDTV-Icon of the year 2009
  • NDTV-Icon of the year 2013
  • In 2014 -Bhartiya Vidhya Bhavan, Mumbai Award for conducting of election


  • 1988: “The Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Re-integration of the Leprosy Affected in India” (report released at the India International Centre in New Delhi by Mother Teresa on 18 October 1988)
  • 1992: authorised biography, Mother Teresa;[15] translated into 14 languages in India and abroad
  • 1996: Faith and Compassion – The Life and Work of Mother Teresa (with photographer Raghu Rai); Element Books (UK and US), translated into Dutch and Spanish

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ J Balaji (29 July 2010). "News / National : Chawla demits office; Quraishi to take over". The Hindu (India). Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "The wonder that is India's election – Times of India". The Times of India. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Unfair to impute motives to CEC – India News". 2 February 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Transcending bounds of honesty | Pakistan | News | Newspaper | Daily | English | Online". 7 April 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "House rocked over proposed ordinance – Times of India". The Times of India. 22 March 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Manorama Online | Home | TheWeek COVER STORY". 13 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  9. ^ pg.165 Political mobilisation and democracy in India: states of emergency By Vernon Hewitt, Vernon Marston Hewitt
  10. ^
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ "EC code not letting me work, will move SC, says Assam CM". The Indian Express. India. 25 April 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "Standing up to be counted". Hindustan Times. India. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Chief Election Commissioner of India at Retrieved 14 March 2012
  15. ^ a b Muggeridge, Malcolm. "Mother Teresa (9781852309114): Navin Chawla: Books". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "National : Impeachment for ECs too, says CEC". The Hindu (India). 18 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "The Hindu : Opinion / Editorial : Legitimising the other". Chennai, India: 18 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "The Hindu : Opinion / Letters : Legitimising the other". Chennai, India: 19 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  19. ^ Our Special Correspondent (13 November 2009). "The Telegraph – Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | ‘Other’ gender enters poll rolls". The Telegraph. Kolkota, India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Undertrials must get right to vote: Election Commission – Times Of India". The Times of India. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Exclusive: Chawla accepted funds for private trusts[dead link]
  23. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Nation". The Tribune. India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "The Hindu : National : Navin Chawla denies any conflict of interest, presents details of trust funding". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  25. ^ Express news service. "President rejects CEC advice, Navin Chawla stays". Express India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  26. ^ [3][dead link]
  27. ^ "National : Navin Chawla case: BJP withdraws petition in Supreme Court". The Hindu (India). 8 August 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  28. ^ [4][dead link]
  29. ^ "Chawla's loo breaks led to Cong phone calls: CEC". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "CEC accuses Chawla of siding with one party – Economic Times". 1 February 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Balaji, J. (22 April 2009). "Navin Chawla takes over as CEC". The Hindu 132 (95) (Chennai, India). p. 1. Retrieved 23 April 2009. 
  33. ^ Rajasthan Patrika 28.01.10
  34. ^ Dainik Bhaskar 28.01.10

External links[edit]