Tributes pour in after India’s former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan passes away aged 86


Tributes have poured in after former chief election commissioner TN Seshan, the architect of India’s electoral reforms in the 1990s, passed away in Chennai on Sunday night following a cardiac arrest at the age of 86.

TN Seshan

Seshan, who was unwell for the last few years, died at 9.30 PM.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, “Shri TN Seshan was an outstanding civil servant. He served India with utmost diligence and integrity. His efforts towards electoral reforms have made our democracy stronger and more participative. Pained by his demise. Om Shanti.”

Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi tweeted, “Sad to announce that Shri TN Seshan passed away a short while ago. He was a true legend and a guiding force for all his successors. I pray for peace to his soul.”

Seshan was responsible for starting major electoral reforms during his tenure as the 10th Chief Election Commissioner between 12 December 1990, and 11 December 1996. Seshan was known for ruthlessly enforcing the model code of conduct to reign in muscle and money power during elections. He was honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1996.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor wrote, “Sad that former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan has passed away in Chennai. He was my father’s classmate at Victoria College Palakkad – a courageous & crusty boss who asserted the ElectionCommission’s autonomy & authority as no CEC before him had done. A pillar of our democracy.”

A 1955-batch Indian Administrative Service officer, Seshan was born in Kerala. Before being appointed to lead India’s poll panel, he held several key posts including the defence secretary and the cabinet secretary. A tweet by IAS Association read, ” A sad day indeed. We have lost two of our best senior members – T N Seshan (1955) and P S Krishnan (1956). True role models- they set standards of public service we all aspire for. Loss for nation & society. Deepest Condolences to family members.”


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

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa said the passing away of Seshan “marks the end of an era”. He wrote, “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.”