The Law Ministry has confirmed Achal Kumar Joti will succeed Nasim Zaidi as the Chief Election Commissioner, stating that Joti will take charge from Zaidi on July 6. Joti served as the principal secretary under Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, retiring in January 2013 and was appointed to the three-member body of the Election Commission in 2015. The 1975-batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer will serve as the CEC till January of the next year, and will be the 21st CEC.
Joti has made his career in Gujarat, where he served as the chief vigilance officer and chairman of the Kandla Port Trust (1999-2004). He was also the managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam and secretaries of revenue, industry and other important departments.
The law grants the CEC a full term of six years, or till the age of 65 whichever is sooner and in 64 year-old Joti’s case, it is the latter. The vacancy left by the retirement of Zaidi will also mean that the Modi government has to appoint another election commissioner.
The supreme poll body of the world’s largest democracy has struggled with vacancies in recent times, when after V.S Sampath demitted office this January, H.S Brahma took over only to demit soon leaving two vacancies in the three member body. Nasim Zaidi, as the sole member, was elevated to CEC, and functioned as a single member Election Commission. Om Prakash Rawat is the other member of the Commission.
The Election Commission is an autonomous body tasked with administering elections in India, and has been a three member body since 1989, functioning on the majority vote between the three members. The EC has been in the news recently when it held a Hackathon of its EVM machines after allegations of voter fraud.