The Chief Election Commissioner heads the Election Commission of India, a body constitutionally empowered to conduct free and fair elections to the national and state legislatures. Chief Election Commissioner of India is usually a member of the Indian Civil Service and mostly from the Indian Administrative Service. It is very difficult to remove the authority of the Chief Election Commissioner once elected by the President, as two-thirds of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha need to vote against him for disorderly conduct or improper actions.
Despite the recent changes in the hierarchy, the system always had powers to impose unambiguous rules and guidelines that applied across the entire nation e.g. as to how the ballots will be cast and counted, what will be regarded as 'unqualified' vote. India was probably one of the first countries in the World to go for a completely electronic ballot in the last elections. What made this remarkable was the fact that the Office of the Chief Election Commissioner had successfully implemented this across the entire diverse Indian population that also consisted of the rural illiterate people.
While the office has always been an important one in the machinery of the Indian political process, it gained significant public attention during the tenure of T.N. Seshan, from 1990-1996. Mr. Seshan is widely credited with undertaking a zealous effort to end corruption and manipulation in Indian elections. Though he made significant progress, several politicians attempted to derail these efforts. In particular, the expansion of the Election Commission to include the two Election Commissioners (in addition to the Chief Commissioner) was seen as a move to curtail the commissioner's ability to act aggressively.