Sushil Chandra today assumed charge as the 24th Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India, succeeding Sunil Arora. Arora demitted the office on 12th April 2021 after completing his tenure.
Chandra has been serving in the Commission as Election Commissioner since 15 February 2019. He is also Member of the Delimitation Commission since 18th February 2020 looking after the Delimitation of Jammu Kashmir UT. Having held several posts in the Income-Tax Department for nearly 39 years, Sushil Chandra had also been CBDT Chairman from 1st November 2016 – 14th February 2019.
Since his tenure as Chairman, CBDT itself, Chandra has played an active role in unearthing illegal money often used during Assembly Elections. With his continuous monitoring, the seizures of cash, liquor, freebies, narcotics have increased substantially in recent elections.
He has constantly emphasized the concept of “Inducement-Free” elections and it has become an important aspect of monitoring the electoral process in all ongoing and forthcoming elections. Process of focused and comprehensive monitoring through the deployment of Special Expenditure Observers, activating the role of many more enforcement agencies in the process of Election Expenditure monitoring, more exhaustive and frequent reviews of observers and other agencies are few of the aspects of electoral management encouraged by him.
His contributions are also reflective in systemic changes like Form 26 which has now become an integral part of essential paperwork. Chandra as Chairman CBDT took special efforts in the area of verification of affidavits filed by the candidates before elections. In 2018 in his role as Chairman CBDT, Chandra was instrumental in evolving a uniform format of sharing details of all assets and liabilities not mentioned in the affidavits of the candidates.
Facilitation through innovative IT applications in Election systems has been a unique contribution of Sushil Chandra to the 2019 17th Lok Sabha Elections and the Legislative Assembly Elections held in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Delhi.
Holding of elections to State Assemblies of Bihar, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal amidst Covid concerns and making processes such as nomination and filing of papers online, extending the option of postal ballot to the specific categories of senior citizens, Persons with Disabilities, essential services personnel as also Covid patients/suspects, has seen Chandra lead from the front with an iron will to work despite challenges.