Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The red line on the forehead of CEC, Mr N.Gopalswamy!

I came across a mail by by Mr Charuhasan, the brother of actor Kamal Hasan wherein he had cast aspersions on the credentials of the CEC, Mr N. Gopalswamy on the basis of the red line he always sports on his forehead.

This was in response to a write up by a lawyer from Andhra Pradesh who has made a convincing case for how it is well within the rights of the CEC to recommend the removal of EC – an issue that is debated in the media and political circles to the extent of sidelining the real question whether a person (Mr Navin Chawla) of questionable antecedents can be kept in the pivotal institution of democracy, the Election Commission.

I take particular exception to Mr Charuhasan’s words – “I believe that the red line he wears on his forehead could be psychologically influencing him to deviate from the secular path recommended by the Constitution.”

While on the one hand Mr Charuhasan has demonstrated that public memory, or rather, his memory is short in having forgotten the indictment of Mr Navin Chawla by the Shah commission that he is unfit to hold any public office that demands acts of fair play – on the other, he has made uncivilized remarks on the personal symbols adorned by the CEC Mr Gopalswamy, casting aspersions on his behavior in office.

First of all Navin Chawla’s appointment itself is questionable on rules of propriety and ethics. His misdemeanor is found detailed even in the wikipedia webpage on him. (More of it published at the end of this write-up) Such being the case, any right thinking person must be wondering why it took so long for the CEC to recommend his removal. In this background, it is appalling to find a response like this, casting aspersions on the CEC based on the red line on the forehead that it could be influencing him psychologically in deviating from the ‘secular’ path.

While the question remains what it means to be secular in this context, I wish to say a few points of this red line. This is the ‘Sree ChoorNam’ sported by the devotees of Vishnu. There is a high level of ideology and philosophy behind this. By rubbishing it with such aspersions, Mr Charuhasan makes me frame a new adage –

கம்பன் வீட்டு கட்டுத் தறியும் கவி பாடும் .

அது போல

கமல் வீட்டு கால்லிங் பெல்லும் நாத்திகம் பேசும் ”!

This ‘Sree Choornam’ is not a symbol of one’s caste. It is the image of goddess Mahalakshmi who symbolizes the ‘Mind’ of God Himself. The Thiruman on both sides of the Sree choorNam are the two feet of Lord Mahavishnu Himself. It is in Urdhwa mukham – that is, upward going. This symbolizes the upward movement of the Self in meditation and in attaining Brahman-hood. This is also called Urdhwa pundaram. Urdhawa means going upward. Pundaram means lotus flower. The heart is personified as lotus flower and Lakshmi resides on this flower. By thinking of Her, the person goes upward in mind to reach Bhagawan.

Chandoghya upanishad (VIII – vi- 6) says that there are 101 arteries (called as naadi) of the heart. The heart is not the heart in the literal sense. It is personification of the seat of upasana on which rests the feet of Bhagawan.

Bhagawan is always accompanied with Lakshmi –( as Sree choorNam) the Power that directs the self to the ‘lakshyam’ or goal. The goal is to reach Him. The meditation or worship rises the self through 100 arteries of the lotus- personified heart and reaches the head / forehead.

There the 101st naadi is situated. That naadi is protected by the ThirumaN- Sree ChoorNam. This mark is called as ThirumaN kaapu! Kaapu means ‘protection’. The ingredients used for this, suck the water content in that part of the forehead and keeps the naadi protected. The ThriumaN – Sree choorNam protects the 101st naadi as it gets activated.

By wearing it always, the person is also said to become the home for the divinities. It is un-civil and derogatory to comment on it linking it with some ill-will. If I have to reply to Mr Charuhasan in the same buck, I must say that where divinity resides, the person can not do anything wrong. The CEC has done the right thing without fear or fervor as the Voice of divinity!


On significance of ThirumaN – Sree choorNam :-



Mr Charuhasan’s mail:-




“The right and duty established by the article of the Constitution has nothing to do with equality and inequality between CEC and other ECs. I want to point out that the rule primus inter pares (superior among equals) does apply between the Prime minister of India and myself. That does not preclude me from my right to complain against his fitness to hold the illustrious office. I agree with writer’s conclusion that the CEC has ‘suo motu powers to recommend’ the removal of the EC. I should not be misunderstood as trying to back the CEC in all he does. I believe that the red line he wears on his forehead could be psychologically influencing him to deviate from the secular path recommended by the Constitution. But again, the same Constitution gives him the right to profess the religion of his choice. As a one time jurist, I believe in the dictum that justice should not only be done but must also be seen to be done”


Alwarpet, Chennai



“CEC’s report on EC binding on President”


VIVEK REDDY (a practising lawyer in the Andhra Pradesh high court )

THE RECOMMENDATION of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswami to the President has created a constitutional crisis. Union law minister Hansraj Bhardwaj’s statement that the CEC cannot suo motu recommend the removal of election commissioner (EC) Navin Chawla is constitutionally indefensible given the text and structure of the Indian Constitution and Supreme Court’s previous decisions. Second provision of Article 324(5) of the Constitution states: “Provided further that any other election commissioner or a regional commissioner (RC) shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner”.

There are four compelling constitutional reasons enabling the CEC to directly recommend the removal of the EC to the President. Any other interpretation could subvert the very purpose of the Election Commission as an impartial body.

First, there is nothing in the text of Article 324(5) which mandates that the CEC must give recommendations only after a referral by the President. Referral from one constitutional authority to another is an important constitutional process and wherever such a referral is required before effecting a removal, it has been expressly stipulated in the Constitution. For example, to disqualify a member of Parliament the Constitution mandates that the “question shall be referred for the decision of the President” and the President, in turn, has to “obtain the opinion of the Election Commission” (Articles 103 and 191). Similarly, if a member of Union Public Service Commission is to be removed, the President has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court (Article 317). No such requirement of a prior reference from the President to the CEC is contemplated by the Constitution with regard to the removal of an EC.

Second, any interpretation that would require a prior referral by the President to the CEC would threaten the concept of free and fair elections, which has been declared by the Supreme Court as part of the basic structure of the Constitution. If an EC acts blatantly in favour of the ruling party, the President — who acts on the advice of the Union Cabinet — may not refer the issue to the CEC since the ruling government is a beneficiary of the bias. The CEC would be helpless in that situation. This is not merely hypothetical — past records show that this is a possibility. ? Third, the constitutional structure of the Election Commission itself would suggest that a referral from the President is not a condition precedent for the CEC to recommend removal of the EC. Article 324(5) places RC and EC on equal footing as far as removal from office is concerned. The CEC, as the head of the organisation, is better posi tioned to examine the conduct of an RC and recommend his removal to the President if his conduct is not in the interests of the organisation. It may not serve the constitutional purpose if the CEC has to wait for a referral from the President to recommend action against an errant RC.

The same logic would apply to the removal of an EC. The CEC is better positioned to examine the behaviour of an election commissioner than the Central government. Requiring a formal referral from the President before the CEC gives his recommendation would make the Election Commission a toothless body in taking action against errant members in the body.

Fourth, the Supreme Court ruling in T.N. Seshan’s case supports this conclusion. To protect ECs and RCs from the whim and caprice of the CEC, the Supreme Court mandated that the “recommendation for removal must be based on intelligible and cogent con siderations which would have relation to the efficient functioning of the Election Commission”. The Court emphasised that the “CEC must exercise this power only when there exist valid reasons which are conducive to the efficient functioning of the Commission”. The Supreme Court conceived CEC’s power to recommend removal of EC as a “power” which must be exercised only when there are valid reasons and not when the issue has been referred to the CEC by the President.

This takes us to the next issue. Is the recommendation of the CEC binding on the President? Under Article 103(2), with respect to the disqualification of an MP, the Constitution mandates that the President shall obtain the “opinion” of the Election Commission and “act according to such opinion”. Article 324(5) does not have a similar provision. But if the CEC’s report discloses valid reasons, the President has to act on those recommendations. Taking the contrary view would mean that a partisan EC continues to be in office despite a report from the CEC. The opinion of the CEC is binding on the President in the same manner as the recommendation of the Chief Justice with regard to appointment of judges.

The Election Commission is the custodian of Indian democracy. Every effort must be made to preserve its independence. The timing of the current CEC’s report is debatable and can be resolved only after examining the report on its merits. The larger question is whether Indian democracy can afford the Election Commission to be headed by a person who has been declared by the Shah Commission to be “unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play”.


From News Today published in 2006


For god's sake, go! Navin Chawla !



Postings and transfers of senior bureaucrats have a crucial impact on two sectors - law and order including security and the delivery systems in the country. On both these counts we have reached a critical stage in our national history and we will be in a deeper crisis if the government of India under the effete and de jure Prime Ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh and the de facto machinating, manoeuvring, mendacious Prime Ministership of Madame Mother Superior with her epicentre in Italy continues to be afflicted with the Mother Superior Disease Syndrome (MSDS) of apoplexy at the centre and anaemia at the extremities.

Two months before his appointment as Election Commissioner, using his clout with Mother Superior, he was moving for his appointment as Union Home Secretary. At that time on 16 March 2005 I wrote in News Today under the headline 'Shame Without Honour':

'The most spectacularly classical evidence in Indian bureaucracy is that whilst all bureaucrats of similar seniority are equal on paper, yet some chosen few are more equal than others'.

Navin Chawla belongs to the latter category, with tremendous clout in the UPA government, thanks to his unbroken record of 'loyalty' and 'service' to the Nehru family. He was very close to Sanjay Gandhi and wielded unprecedented power in his official capacity as Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Delhi Kishan Chand during the emergency in 1975-77. He functioned as the de facto Governor of Delhi and several bureaucrats who happened to interact with him during this period have confirmed the fact that he was known for his unabashed authoritarianism. His controversial role as secretary to the Lt. Governor of Delhi was noted by the Shah Commission which went into Emergency Excesses. Navin Chawla did not cover himself with glory when the Constitution of India was subverted with impunity during emergency. As one who occupied a vantage position during that period, he was charged with arbitrary exercise of authority. Any other officer with this kind of background would have been sidelined under the cliché-ridden 'Law will take its own course' umbrella. But there are spectacular exceptions to this general rule in our decadent and perverted democracy. Navin Chawla comes under the category of special exceptions and special exemptions under the law of the land'.

As a free lance and unknown journalist, after penning the above helpless lines, I have remained of the earth, earthy. But Navin Chawla has risen by ascending spirals to dizzy heights. He was appointed as Election Commissioner in May, 2005. His track record of having subverted the Indian Constitution during emergency in 1975-77 and his several acts and deeds of misconduct during that period were buried under the sea and he was considered as suitable and fit for appointment as Election Commissioner of India. Justice Shah had commented on Navin Chawla in his report: 'Navin Chawla became the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and Kishan Chand the Lieutenant Governor became Navin Chawla's lieutenant'. Thus this Chawla, the distinguished Daftri (perhaps 'Chaprasi') of the Nehru dynasty and Sanjay Gandhi's Man Friday was illegitimately rewarded by the government of India for his life-long loyalty not to the nation but to a family. Thus the ghosts of the Emergency were finally exorcised by the elevation of Navin Chawla to the post of Election Commissioner.

In his farewell remarks, the outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Krishnamurthy rightly said that he feared the politicisation of the commission. Perhaps Chawla's shady and sordid background was very much in his mind when he made this comment.

Chawla's appointment as Election Commissioner was against the public interest and all the more objectionable because, by sheer seniority, Chawla would be the Chief Election Commissioner in 2009 when the general election is due. It may not be out of place or out of context to reasonably imagine that Sonia Gandhi has cleverly planted him in this post keeping in view the interest of her son Rahul Gandhi whom she wants to elevate to the post of Prime Minister of India in 2009. In case Navin Chawla performs as per her expectations in 2009, he may as well land up to begin with as the Vice-President of India and later with Sonia willing, may even become the Indian President! Normally when we are helpless we say that 'God only knows!' But unfortunately for India and for all of us, even God does not know. Perhaps 'Sonia only knows' - all the way, now and for ever!!

One more striking instance of the reprehensible conduct of Navin Chawla has recently come to light. Using his official influence in the Indian Administrative Service and with the full blessings of his Mother Superior, he has collected large sums of money for a non-governmental agency being run by his wife Rupika Chawla under the contrived umbrella of 'Social Work and Social Service'. Ambika Soni seems to have contributed Rs 15 lakh, Karan Singh Rs 10 lakh, A R Kidwai Rs 45 lakh and God only knows how much money other Congressmen have contributed to this great humanitarian effort without parallel in human history! Are they all preparing themselves for 2009 elections? Are they all doing strategic perspective planning?

Navin Chawla has stated that after his appointment as Election Commissioner, no money has been collected. His response is both irrelevant and irresponsible. The moot question is whether before his appointment as Election Commissioner, he was a private citizen or a member of the IAS. If he was a member of the IAS, then he was very much governed by the All India Services Conduct Rules and as per these rules, any collection of unauthorised money unconnected with one's official duty from any member of the public or any organisation is prohibited. But as I have stated earlier, right from day one of his entry into the IAS, he was exempted from all rules under the All India Services, first by Indira Gandhi, then by Sanjay Gandhi, again by Indira Gandhi after 1980 and subsequently by Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. I am saying all this only in the light of the fact that senior Congressmen have participated with gusto and enthusiasm with huge sums of money in the collection drive of the NGO controlled by his wife. The whole nation knows that their aim is not to wipe every tear from every eye! Their aim is only to wipe every tear from every eye in Mother Superior's family.

Soli Sorabji, the former Solicitor General of India, has rightly suggested that Navin Chawla should step down. But as one who has voluntarily chosen the path of shame without honour, it is not unlikely to expect Navin Chawla to treat the observation of Soli Sorabji with indivisible contempt. I expect the Chief Election Commissioner of India to take note of this article and to initiate appropriate action against Navin Chawla as per the law. I would request the President of India to remove him forthwith from the post of Election Commissioner for functioning as an informal agent of the Congress party with the panoply of official authority for 30 years and more.

The Election Commission always talks with bravado about the need for a code of conduct amongst political parties and politicians. In this context I would like to make it clear that all the Election Commissioners themselves must have a code of conduct and they should all realise the fact that they too are not above the law of the land.

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

e-mail the writer at vsundaram@newstodaynet.com


The trouble with Mr Chawla

Author: Ashok Malik
Publication: The Pioneer
April 14, 2007

What the Shah commission said :-


Shah Commission indicted Navin Chawla and two others on the basis of oral and documentary evidence obtained during the inquiry in the following words: "It is clear on the evidence that S/Shri PS Bhinder, KS Bajwa and Navin Chawla exercised enormous powers during the Emergency because they had easy access to the then Prime Minister's house. "Having acquired the power, they used it without considering whether the exercise was moral or immoral, legal or illegal. The Commission is of the opinion that though the involvement of these officers may vary slightly in degree, their approach to the problems of the period relating to the citizens was authoritarian and callous.

They grossly misused their position and in the process rendered themselves unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others. In their relish for power they completely subverted the normal channels of command and administrative procedure."

The Shah Commission's interim reports - part I: March 11, 1978, and part II: April 26, 1978 - make fascinating reading. Chawla's indictment ran from the brazen to the downright terrifying. It began innocuously enough with a report on the requisitioning of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses for Congress rallies: "The buses were booked on the basis of telephonic instructions received from Shri Navin Chawla ... The details regarding the number of buses and the parties and places to which they would report were given by Shri Navin Chawla."

It was a different India. "On June 13, 1975," the Shah Commission said, "the entire fleet of 983 buses plying on the Delhi routes was taken off the road and the buses were diverted to converge on the Prime Minister's house."

……..The transport manager also played propagandist: "A number of films were produced by the Films Division to project the image of Shri Sanjay Gandhi... Shri Navin Chawla... was virtually nominated as consultant for these films." Chawla claimed he was following the Lieutenant Governor's orders and denied initiating any publicity for Sanjay Gandhi.---

Chapter XI of the Shah Commission's Interim Report II dealt with the "1,012 persons detailed under MISA [Maintenance of Internal Security Act] during the period of Emergency". Before the Emergency, only the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and the District Magistrate (DM) were empowered to issue detention orders under MISA.

On July 3, 1975, this authority was extended to five additional DMs (ADMs) as well. The DM and the ADMs were directed to expeditiously issue arrest orders, as and when requests were made by the police: "The detaining authorities were not required to bother much about the adequacy or veracity of the grounds of detention." Crucial to this endeavour was the Lieutenant Governor's Secretary.

The Shah Commission sought evidence from the ADMs: "S/Shri P Ghosh, GC Srivastava and Smt Meenakshi Dutta Ghosh have further stated that they were called by Shri Navin Chawla sometime after the additional district magistrates had been empowered to issue detention orders and were told to issue as many orders as possible."

The ADMs recalled that "Shri Navin Chawla had summoned... and told them to 'fabricate the grounds' whenever they found the grounds supplied by the police to be inadequate".

There was more: "Shri P Ghosh... was again summoned by Shri Navin Chawla and was told that the Lieutenant Governor 'would not hesitate to put even senior IAS officers behind the bars under MISA if he found them lacking in cooperation in the matter of MISA detentions'."

A committee headed by the Lieutenant Governor was set up in October 1975 to review detention cases. Cases to be taken up by the committee were pre-cleared by a three-member sub-committee that included Navin Chawla: "The main, if not the only, criterion for the recommendations was the severance of an individual's relations from his political party following a declaration of his support to the 20 point programme of the then Prime Minister."

There was also a hint of concentration camp approach: "A special sub-committee to interrogate certain persons who had tendered an apology for their past political activities was constituted ... (It) included a psychiatrist also. The purpose of the interrogation, conducted in jail, was to ascertain the genuineness of the political conversion of the persons. Smt S Chandra [then special secretary (home), Delhi] has stated that this special sub-committee was Shri Navin Chawla's idea."

What happened to the political prisoners in Tihar?

This is how the Shah Commission saw it: "Though Shri Navin Chawla had no position in the jail hierarchy, he was exercising extra-statutory control in jail matters and sending instructions on all matters including the treatment of particular detenues. Shri Chawla had suggested the construction of some cells with asbestos roofs to 'bake' certain persons. A proposal to this effect was also processed but given up eventually due to certain technical reasons."

Parole was used as "an incentive to promote family planning". This "freedom for sterilisation" formula was also Chawla's: "According to Shri Krishan Chand [then Lieutenant Governor] Navin Chawla had given an assurance to the detenues to release them on parole if they got themselves sterilised."

However, when it came to allowing student prisoners to appear for examinations, there was no relaxation, no parole. As Chawla admitted, student prisoners were "considered a high security risk". Other officials remembered Chawla "used to deprecate in very strong language the activities of the students in general and the student detenues in particular".

One sample stood out. "It was seen that in one case the Delhi University agreed to open a special centre... just a mile from Tihar Jail," the Shah report said, but it was to no avail. The law student in question lost a year. His name was Arun Jaitley.


Article published in The Pioneer, February 12, 2006

Dangerous EC: 2009

by Dina Nath Mishra

India enjoys the reputation of credible democracy in the whole world. We feel proud of being called the largest democracy. It is by and large an objective description of reality. But the level of maturity of our democracy differs from State to State. For decades, in J&K, elections were largely farce. Bihar too fell in the same category. Use of muscle power and Government agencies is very much prevalent in a large part of UP also. Yet another tendency has surfaced in UPA, particularly the Congress party, to align with unlawful organisations. It is only because of this that Congress could win the last election in Andhra Pradesh.

Nevertheless, unlike Pakistan, regular elections take place in India and many a time regime also changes. In recent years the credibility of EC has gone up after conducting free, fair and fearless elections in J&K and Bihar. Next General Election is scheduled to be held in early 2009. The present Chief EC would lay down his office in the year 2006. The second in the line Gopalaswamy retires in September 2008.

Navin Chawla will preside over the EC for ten months till he reaches 65 years of age. During his tenure Parliamentary elections would be held in 2009. Navin Chawla of IAS cadres is by for the loyal best officer for Sonia Gandhi and this he has proven time and again. A TV channel has exposed Navin Chawla's close relations with the Congress Party. It has proven that his family trusts received huge money from a number of Congress MPs. His relations with the Gandhi family and the Congress Party are too well known to be ignored. Metallic strength of democracy can't be measured by Constitution, verbal pronouncements and formal commitment to democracy.

It has to be measured by the deeds of people, politicians and persons at the helm of affairs. Moreover, it all depends upon human behaviour. Democratic commitment of Sonia Gandhi has been exposed by gubernatorial appointments of Goa, Jharkhand and Bihar and its gross misuse thereafter. It has been proven by the SC in more than one case. Now she has inducted Navin Chawla, a man known for his dubious character. She has set in directional change in the EC to be matured as destinational changes by 2009.

Shah Commission indicted Navin Chawla and two others on the basis of oral and documentary evidence obtained during the inquiry in the following words: "It is clear on the evidence that S/Shri PS Bhinder, KS Bajwa and Navin Chawla exercised enormous powers during the Emergency because they had easy access to the then Prime Minister's house. "Having acquired the power, they used it without considering whether the exercise was moral or immoral, legal or illegal. The Commission is of the opinion that though the involvement of these officers may vary slightly in degree, their approach to the problems of the period relating to the citizens was authoritarian and callous.

They grossly misused their position and in the process rendered themselves unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others. In their relish for power they completely subverted the normal channels of command and administrative procedure." At another point the commission said, "tyrants sprouted at all levels overnight-tyrants whose claim to authority was largely based on their proximity to power." Navin Chawla has been described as the man "unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play". Sonia Gandhi considered him the choicest fit to hold the highest electoral authority, the EC whose membership requires most impartial and fairest behaviour.

Can there be a bigger travesty of the situation? The appointment of Navin Chawla as a member of EC is surely an ominous symptom of the Commission's working, as head of the electoral mafia during 2009 general elections, may be in collusion with Italian mafia.

It is worthwhile to recall what Lt Governor Kishan Chand has to say about Navin Chawla during proceedings in the Shah Commission when Chawla was secretary to LG of Delhi, during Emergency. Kishan Chand in an extra-ordinary confession admitted that he used to receive instructions from his secretary, Navin Chawla.

The evidence spread over Shah Commission report suggests Chawla's Gestapo (German Secret Police) type behaviour like fabricating evidence, instructing asbestos roof for jail cells, to take on certain MISA detinues or put them in lunatic asylums and threatening some IAS officers of even putting them also under MISA. A man with such track record has been appointed as a member of the EC. Can he be trusted for this position?



Anonymous said...

When it is a dire necessity in our country to abolish communalism, eminent personalities like Mr.charuhaasan whose words will be heard should be careful while issuing such statements.But then when have the elites and the powercentres in our country have acted responsibly.

Dr Jayasree Saranathan said...


neela said...

May be one should understand meaning of Secularism and Why is it should be practised only by Hindus in India ( Hindusthan)?

Dr Jayasree Saranathan said...



Our Delhi Bureau

February 04, 2009

Chief Election Commissioner Needamangalam Gopalaswami is a stickler.

For rules. For details. For discipline. For principles. For values.

For him, there is only one way of doing things: The right way.

He is known to make copious notes about how every hour of his day
passes. "He jots down details in a tiny diary. Even if you speak to
him on the phone for a few minutes, your name and details of the
conversation go into that tiny diary," revealed a friend who has known
the CEC for 20 years.

So, the moment he decided to recommend Navin Chawla's [Images] removal
from the post of election commissioner, Gopalaswami retreated into a
one-of-its-kind library. "It is more like a room where all these
diaries, which he has kept labeled in serial order over a period of
time, are strewn all over the place," the friend said.

Gopalaswami turned to these diaries for factual accuracy. People close
to the CEC that his keen eye for detail and habit of keeping
meticulous notes led him to believe that Chawla was leaking
information during his toilet breaks.

"That he drafted a 12-point recommendation running into more than 90
pages is a fact everyone knows. What many don't know is that he went
over it again and again and again. He revised the draft nine times
before forwarding it to President Pratibha Patil [Images]," the friend

What might appear extraordinary or eccentric to the casual observer is
but second nature for Gopalaswami, who is fondly referred to as Gopu
by some colleagues.

An Indian Administrative Service officer from the 1966 batch, his
first posting was in Surat [Images]. Gopalaswami, a former student of
St Stephen's College, had stood second in the mandatory Gujarati test
for officers from outside Gujarat.

He worked to ensure the best possible civic infrastructure for the
industrial town. He became so popular that local political leaders
said he could easily win an election if he ever chose to contest.

During his stint in Gujarat, senior leaders like Chimanbhai Patel and
Hitendra Desai are known to have diverted their adversaries to
Gopalaswami, knowing there was no better person at snubbing unwanted
elements. When a local leader approached him with a bribe of Rs 5,000
early in his tenure, Gopalaswami first intimated the chief minister
and then called the police.

This kind of adherence to values has made him the person that he is
today, people close to Gopalaswami say.

"If you go to his residence, he won't even offer you a glass of water.
He may even eat in front of you without offering you anything," a
close friend said. This attitude is more because of a
give-nothing-take-nothing principle than anything else, insiders say.

And friends say he could swallow what he dished out. A teetotaler with
simple and clean eating habits, he is never known to have eaten a
single meal outside his home.

"He had to attend so many dinner meetings. In the two decades or so
that I have known him, I have never seen him eat outside," a friend
said, adding, "He will entertain you in the drawing room and may talk
to you for two hours, but there won't be a single offer for any
refreshments or even water."

Gopalaswami follows his set of rules at the workplace too. He used to
leave office at 9 pm. "His brief to his office was that he wouldn't
sign any papers between 8.30 pm and 9 pm. 'If a guy comes running to
your car as you are leaving and wants something signed in a hurry,
that is where corruption begins' was his motto," an observer said.

Sources in the bureaucracy say that not just Gopalaswami, but two more
officers from the 1966 IAS batch are cast in the same mould.

"They are a terror for other officers due to their upright nature:
Gopalaswami, then Union Home Secretary P Shankar and Chief Vigilance
Officer and Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi. They were called the
teen murtis," the source added.

"The first two are often clubbed together and dubbed as Gopu and
Shanku -- that is also how they address each other. They have forged a
very close relationship over the years and are still very close," he

Apart from such professionalism, another thing that Gopalaswami wears
on his sleeve is his faith. "Though he sports the Iyengar sweecharnam
(tilak), he leans more on the spiritual side than the religious side.
He is a very secular person," said the friend about the staunch
god-fearing Vaishnavaite.

"When Vaishnavite spiritual leaders visit Delhi [Images], temple
authorities here ask Gopalaswami to deliver the welcome address. He
recites the Tiruppavai during the month of Margazhi. He has also
visited all the divyadesams -- the 108 holy pilgrimage sites for
Vaishnavites," the source added.

The CEC also sports a keen interest in astrology and is remarkably
tech-savvy, informs the friend.

When the Election Commission started the process of delimitations of
constituencies, the CEC suggested that Google maps be used for the
arduous exercise.

He also played a very crucial role in designing the software that will
be employed in the 2011 census.

A lesser known facet of Gopalaswami is the role he has played in
preserving the Vedas.

"Some parts of the ancient Hindu scriptures, like the sama Veda, are
only orally taught. They have been passed on through the Gurukul
system and through Shruti lessons. Goplaswami, who wanted to preserve
such things for posterity, was instrumental in securing a Rs 5 crore
(Rs 50 million) grant from UNESCO," a source said.

What ultimately defines the CEC's current predicament -- more than all
the above -- are these two incidents.

"He and The Hindu's Editor-in-Chief N Ram met each other when the
latter invited him to lecture the newspaper's staff in Chennai. From
that time, the two became close and Ram used to speak to him on a
daily basis. On the day he forwarded the recommendation to the
President, Ram got wind of it and called Gopalaswami and asked him if
what he had heard was true. Since he is not the kind of man who would
lie about anything, Gopalaswami merely said yes, and Ram went ahead
with his story. Otherwise, this would have remained an internal
matter," a source close to Gopalaswami said.

The other incident only highlights how the stickler also has a clearly
demarcated sense of personal equations and professionals
responsibilities. "When the controversy surrounding Chawla started
brewing, at the behest of Ram, Chawla paid a surprise visit to
Gopalaswami at his residence on Diwali, carrying sweets. The two spoke
for a long time and Chawla shared some personal problems with
Gopalaswami. As he was leaving, Chawla even made an elaborate gesture
of respect towards Gopalaswami and sought his blessings. Gopalaswami
wished him well," the source said.

charuhasan said...

This post seems to be based on my one letter about CEC that his order is very legal. My comment is based on justice must also appear to be done. I have a great regard for former CEC. This remark is from a man who is a decade senior to the hon. CEC. If I have hurt anybody's feelings I feel sorry. Yet I have the courage of my conviction. I stand by what wrote.