Power Secretary V S Sampath also took over as the third Election Commissioner following the elevation of Chawla. 64-year-old Chawla, who was the senior-most Election Commissioner after Gopalaswami in the three-member panel, will remain in office till June 29 next year when he turns 65.
The Chief Election Commissioner, a Constitutional post, enjoys a term of six years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. He is the first CEC, who took over in the midst of a five-phased Lok Sabha elections and will oversee four phases of the polls.
The elevation of Chawla, who was appointed as Election Commissioner on May 13, 2005, comes after a controversy triggered by Gopalaswami's recommendation to the President for his removal from office for alleged partisan functioning.
The government had not only turned down Gopalswami's recommendation but had even announced on March 4 that Chawla would succeed him as CEC. While demitting office on Monday after an eventful stint, Goplaswami wished Chawla "a very bright tenure."
Chawla had earlier served in various capacities in the government during his chequered career, the last being Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. He has also served as Secretary to the Union Public Service Commission.
Chawla was secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi at the time of Emergency. He has authored a number of books, including an authorised biography of Mother Teresa which became popular internationally. Chawla is also a recipient of the Italian government's Mazzini Award, instituted in honour of writer Giuseppe Mazzini, for his contribution to promoting ties between India and Italy.
Navin Chawla, quoted the Supreme Court judgement that CEC was nothing more than that as interpreter. "Otherwise all of us are are equals," he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
He requested the youth and rural voters to come out in good number and stregthen the dcmocracy.
Additional reportage: PTI