S.Y. Quraishi on Friday took over as India's new chief election commissioner (CEC) and said achieving "a perfect electoral roll" and curbing money power during polls were his priorities.
After assuming office, Quraishi told reporters here that "the election commission would continuously strive to deliver free and fair elections wherever and whenever required".
Quraishi, a former bureaucrat, is the first Muslim to occupy the CEC's post. He joined the poll panel as a member in 2006 and has taken over from Navin Chawla, who held the post for one-and-a-half years. Quraishi will serve for two years.
"We are already working systematically to achieve a perfect electoral roll at the earliest," the 63-year-old said. "We not only deal with issues as we confront them, we try to anticipate several of them."
Quraishi said that while the framers of the constitution insulated the Election Commission from all possible pressures, it is the judiciary that has zealously guarded the independence of the panel against any assault.
"The Supreme Court has assured that this commission only grows stronger," he said.
The new CEC said he is encouraged "by the fact that some of the overdue electoral reforms have started receiving the attention of the government and the parliament".
He hoped that other "important reforms would find acceptance at an early date".
"In great institutions (like the EC) priorities do not change overnight; they do not change radically either," he added.
Quraishi said the multi-member poll panel has the "principle of equality as its hallmark" and any transaction is marked by continuity. "This has contributed to the impartiality and absolute neutrality of the commission at all times," he added.