How former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan tamed the criminalisation of Indian politics
[An excerpt from TN Seshan and tChristophe Jaffrelot's essay]
As the criminalisation of Indian politics was affecting elections as never before in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the Supreme Court initiated a new form of “judicial activism”. But the Election Commission contributed in its way to boosting the rule of law. The shift came with the appointment of TN Seshan at its helm in December 1990, where he would serve for six years. The Commission had always discharged its duties with care, but its measures became more stringent under its new chief’s impetus.
Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan, an IAS officer since 1955, saw his career soar in 1988 when Rajiv Gandhi had him appointed as secretary heading the defence ministry. As defence secretary, he so ably defended the interests of the Congress (I) during the Bofors affair – a scandal that placed the ministry in the line . . .