Former Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan passes away at 86 in Chennai

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Former (CEC) and former Cabinet secretary Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan, who ushered in reforms in the country’s electoral process during his tenure as CEC in the 1990s, died of a cardiac arrest on Sunday in Chennai. He was 86.

He was not keeping good health for the past couple of years and he passed away at about 9.30 pm.

Born on December 15, 1932, in Thirunellai, Palakkad district, Kerala, Seshan was the youngest of six siblings in a middle-class family. His father was a lawyer in the district court.

Seshan went to school in Kerala, then studied science at Madras Christian College in Chennai, where he won a gold medal for outstanding performance — but at the cost of his social life. With few job opportunities in the early 1950s for young scientists, Seshan became a lecturer in the same college at 19.

He left in 1953 because the monthly salary was a paltry Rs 180. He decided to make a career in the civil services, and topped the police examination in 1953. In 1955, he topped the IAS entrance exam and began his long journey as a bureaucrat. T N Seshan was the 10th and had served from December 12, 1990, till December 11, 1996.

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He had also won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his services to the government in 1996.

"His efforts towards electoral reforms have made our democracy stronger and more participative. Pained by his demise. Om Shanti," Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

Known for his no-nonsense attitude, Seshan was credited with ushering in major electoral reforms during his tenure as the 10th CEC.

"Saddened to know about the demise of T.N. Seshan, a stalwart for free and fair elections. His legendary contribution to democracy will be always remembered. My condolences to his family and many admirers," said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Home Minister Amit Shah said Seshan played a transformative role in reinforcing and strengthening India's electoral institution.

"Saddened by the demise of former Chief Election Commissioner, Shri T N Seshan ji. He played a transformative role in reforming and strengthening India's electoral institution. The nation will always remember him as a true torchbearer of democracy. My prayers are with his family," Shah tweeted.

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa said the passing away of Seshan "marks the end of an era".

"He upheld the dignity of his office & earned respect by his fierce independence & effective functioning. A goalpost for his successors, he continues to be a benchmark for the constitutional framework of a thriving democracy."

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