Navin Chawla

Navin Chawla
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 30 July 1945 (1945-07-30) (age 66)
Nationality Indian
Alma mater London School of Economics
Occupation Civil servant
Religion Hinduism[1]

Naveen (born 30 July 1945, New Delhi), a controversial Indian bureaucrat ,[2][3] is a retired chief election commissioner of India.[4] As Chief Election Commissioner, Navin Chawla oversaw the last 4 phases (out of 5) of Indian general election to Loksabha in April–May 2009.[5] Despite apprehensions which had been expressed about his leanings towards the Congress Party, he is thought to have conducted the elections in an even-handed manner, with actions taken against the alleged malpractices of Congress Governments in Rajasthan, Assam and Andhra Pradesh as well as the Congress Allied Government of Tamil Nadu.[6][7][8] During his tenure as the chief election commissioner, the Election Commission of India was honored as India’s Icon of the last 21years by NDTV, a private television channel in India.[9]

Navin Chawla is best known for his pro-Indira Gandhi actions as secretary to lieutenant governor of Delhi during Indian emergency(1975–77)[10][11][12][13] and for the biography of Mother Teresa, a world-renowned christian missionary worker.[14] The shah commission, an independent commission headed by former chief justice of India, JC Shah and charged with inquiring into atrocities during emergency period, commented in its final report that Navin Chawla is “unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others”.[15][16][17][18][19] The Shah commission’s report was buried after Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980.[20] Mrs. Gandhi, then Prime Minister, personally “recalled all reports of Shah Commission wherever possible”.[21]

According to his family, Navin Chawla was greatly influenced by Mother Teresa in later years and retreated from the decision of resigning civil service in 1997 with her advise.[22]


Early life and education

Navin Chawla was born in New Delhi. He studied at the Lawrence School, Sanawar, Himachal Pradesh, (1953–1961) and received his Senior School Certificate in 1961. He received the Government of India Scholarship for the first two years at The Lawrence School. He did his B.A. (Hons.) History, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi (1962–66) and then his B.A. (Hons.) History from London University (1965–67). He also holds a diploma in Social Administration from the London School of Economics (1968). He was a Fellow of Queen Elizabeth House during his Oxford University study in 1996.


Navin Chawla is an IAS officer of the 1969 batch. He was appointed as Election Commissioner in 2005 to fill the vacancy caused by the elevation of B. B. Tandon as the Chief Election Commissioner of India. He served from 16 May 2005 to 30 July 2010.

His association with Mother Teresa resulted in his authoring her official biography – Mother Teresa.[23]

Earlier posts held

Navin Chawla in his long career held various posts in multiple branches of Union Government, as is expected of an IAS officer. The most controversial of his postings was early in his career as the director of Delhi Finance Corporation. Since then he was a finance secretary, labor secretary and chairman of an electricity board. He worked on deputation at International Labor Organization during 1984–86.

Initiatives as Election Commissioner

Navin Chawla has taken various initiatives related to the reform of both the Electoral Process as well as the functioning of the Election Commission. He has

  • Sought for Constitutional sanction of Impeachment for the removal of all Election Commissioners so as to bring the process for removal in line with that for the removal of the Chief Election Commissioner.[24]
  • Taken special interest to ensure that Eunuchs (The Third Sex) get the right to vote. They had been left out of the democratic process since they could neither register themselves as “Male” nor “Female”. Now they can register themselves as “Other.” The issue was first raised by the students of KIIT Law School, Bhubaneswar, during an interaction with Mr. Chawla.[25][26][27][28]
  • Called for regulating the participation of Undertrial Prisoners in the Electoral process. At present Undertrial Prisoners are not allowed to vote while they can stand for Election until finally convicted.[29]

Controversies and Political Opposition

Navin Chawla is best known in India for his association with the atrocities and excesses of emergency rule in India. Chawla went to school with Sanjay Gandhi, younger son of then prime minister Indira Gandhi and was considered one of his henchmen.[30] JC Shah, the former chief justice of India commented in the inquiry report that Chawla was unfit to hold any public office. This report was later rejected by the congress government headed by Indira Gandhi, which was back in power in 1980. The government also took the extraordinary step of recalling every published report and destroying the copies. It is now believed that not a single copy of this report exists in India.[31][32] A third and final report of the commission seems to have slipped out and is currently held by National Library of Australia.[33]

Election Commissioner and his wife Rupika ran the Jaipur-based Lala Chaman Lal Education Trust which had secured MPLADS funds from Congress MPs – A.A. Khan, R.P. Goenka, Ambika Soni, Dr Karan Singh and Mr A.R. Kidwai.[34] The trust was allotted 6 acres (24,000 m2) of land by the Congress government in Rajasthan when Mr Ashok Gehlot was the Chief Minister.[35][36]

In March 2006, the National Democratic Alliance presented the President of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with a memorandum signed by over 200 MPs for his removal. The memorandum questioned his impartiality in light of his alleged links with the Indian National Congress.This was examined by the then congress government and subsequently no action was taken.[37]

In May 2006 Jaswant Singh the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha moved Supreme Court of India seeking removal of the Navin Chawla as chief election commissioner in view of his life long association with congress politicians and the recent MPLADS controversy.[38] The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that he had the powers to remove an Election Commissioner (EC). In view of this stand, the BJP 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.”.[39]

The Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami on 31 January 2009 sent his recommendation regarding removal of election commissioner Navin Chawla to the President of India.[40] 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 contended that Chawla would take breaks during crucial meetings and secretly talk to functionaries of the Congress party and leak confidential details of the election commission.[41] He is also reported to have opposed the Election Commission's notice to Sonia Gandhi for her accepting foreign honors from Belgium.[42]

The CEC recommendation against Chawla has been politically controversial.[43] However the Indian government led by Congress Party to which Chawla is accused of being favorable, has rejected the CEC recommendation against Chawla on Sunday, 1 March 2009.[44] He took over CEC of India on 20 April 2009 and has successfully concluded the 2009 General Elections to the Parliament of India.

Two BJP lawyers and office bearers petitioned a local Jaipur court to lodge an FIR against Chawla as well as senior officials of the Govt. of Rajasthan regarding allotment of land to Chawla's trusts in Jaipur by Jaipur Development Authority in 2000. The Court did not agree to order the filing of an FIR, and instead in an order dated 10 Feb 2009 asked the police to investigate the complaint against the seven named. The complaint has since been dismissed by the Court.[45][46]

Omesh Saigal, an IIT alumnus and IAS officer blew the top of the Election Commissioner Navin Chawla in front of the whole nation when he successfully demonstrated that the 2009 elections in India when Congress Party of India came back to power might be rigged. This forced the election commission to review the current EVMs and brought bad reputation for Mr. Navin Chawla.[47]


  • Mazzini award by the Government of Italy "in recognition of his efforts to forge a new relationship with Italy and strengthening existing bonds" 2005
  • Award from the Institution of Directors, New Delhi – 2004.


  • 1992: Biography of Mother Teresa, with her cooperation, entitled “Mother Teresa”.[23] translated into 14 languages in India and abroad.
  • 1996: “Faith and Compassion – The Life and Work of Mother Teresa” (co-authored with Photographer Raghu Rai) published by Element Books (UK & US), translated also into Dutch and Spanish.
  • 1987: “The Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Re-integration of the Leprosy Affected in India”. This report was released at the India International Centre in New Delhi by Mother Teresa herself on 18 October 1988.

Further reading


  1. ^ Prologue, Navin Chawla: Mother Teresa The Authorized Biography.
  2. ^ "Naveen Chawla mixed up in land allotment scam – India News – IBNLive". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "National : 180 NDA MPs seek removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla". The Hindu. India. 31 January 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  4. ^ J Balaji (29 July 2010). "News / National : Chawla demits office; Quraishi to take over". The Hindu. India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "The wonder that is India's election – Times Of India". 15 May 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "EC code not letting me work, will move SC, says Assam CM". The Indian Express. India. 25 April 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "News » Videos". NDTV. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Gopalaswami Demits, Navin Chawla to Take Over as CEC". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Emergency Special". The Indian Express. India. 25 June 2000. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Swapan Dasgupta (3 June 2005). "The Telegraph – Calcutta : Opinion". The Telegraph. Kolkota, India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Tribune – Magazine section – Saturday Extra". The Tribune. India. 9 July 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "September 3, 1999 ~ Mother Teresa’s Legacy | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly". PBS. 3 September 1999. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Unfair to impute motives to CEC – India News". 2 February 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  17. ^ [2][dead link]
  18. ^ "Transcending bounds of honesty | Pakistan | News | Newspaper | Daily | English | Online". 7 April 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "House rocked over proposed ordinance – Times Of India". 22 March 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  20. ^ Updated Tuesday, 18 October 2011 10:23 am IST (13 November 2009). "Manorama Online | Home | TheWeek COVER STORY". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  21. ^ pg.165 Political mobilisation and democracy in India: states of emergency By Vernon Hewitt, Vernon Marston Hewitt
  22. ^ "Standing up to be counted". Hindustan Times. India. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Muggeridge, Malcolm. "Mother Teresa (9781852309114): Navin Chawla: Books". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "National : Impeachment for ECs too, says CEC". The Hindu. India. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "The Hindu : Opinion / Editorial : Legitimising the other". 18 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  26. ^ "The Hindu : Opinion / Letters : Legitimising the other". 19 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  27. ^ Our Special Correspondent (13 November 2009). "The Telegraph – Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | ‘Other’ gender enters poll rolls". The Telegraph. Kolkota, India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Undertrials must get right to vote: Election Commission – Times Of India". 23 November 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Navin Chawla: An authority by himself". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  31. ^ "Welcome to Frontline : Vol. 28 :: No. 21". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  32. ^ "How they buried Shah Commission report, even without an epitaph". The Indian Express. India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  33. ^ "Shah Commission of Inquiry : third and final report | National Library of Australia". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  34. ^ Exclusive: Chawla accepted funds for private trusts[dead link]
  35. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Nation". The Tribune. India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  36. ^ "The Hindu : National : Navin Chawla denies any conflict of interest, presents details of trust funding". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  37. ^ Express news service. "President rejects CEC advice, Navin Chawla stays". Express India. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  38. ^ [3][dead link]
  39. ^ "National : Navin Chawla case: BJP withdraws petition in Supreme Court". The Hindu. India. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  40. ^ [4][dead link]
  41. ^ "Chawla's loo breaks led to Cong phone calls: CEC". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  42. ^ "CEC accuses Chawla of siding with one party – Economic Times". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  43. ^
  44. ^ [5][dead link]
  45. ^ Rajasthan Patrika 28.01.10
  46. ^ Dainik Bhaskar 28.01.10
  47. ^ [6]

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