Mumbai: Former Maharashtra State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan died of COVID-19 at a hospital on Thursday morning (July 16), hospital authorities said. She was 72.

The 1972-batch IAS officer was the state's first woman election commissioner. She died at Seven Hills Hospital in suburban Andheri around 4 am, the medical facility's dean Dr Balkrishna Adsul said. Her husband and son are also undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at the hospital, he said. The Seven Hills Hospital is a dedicated facility for coronavirus treatment.

Satyanarayan retired as additional chief secretary of the state's revenue department in 2009.

After retirement, she served as the State Election Commissioner between 2009 and 2014. She authored several books and was also a singer.

While serving as a bureaucrat, she raised her voice against women IAS officers not being given important postings in the state secretariat. Later, she was posted in the state revenue and home departments.

During her posting in the home department, she handled administration of prisons where she encouraged artistic skills of women inmates.

Political leaders, including chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar, paid glowing tributes to Satyanarayan.

Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said apart from her duties as a bureaucrat, she also carved a niche for herself in the field of literature.

Maharashtra will remember her forever as someone who left a stamp on her administrative career, the field of literature and art and for being a sensible personality, Thackeray said in his message.

He noted that Satyanarayan was born in a Marathi family in Mumbai and was an inspiration for the youth looking to join the administrative services.

Thackeray also praised her stint as the election commissioner, saying she made the panel more people-oriented.

Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said he was shocked to know about Satyanarayan’s death.

“Her contribution in the state's administrative service and field of literature will be remembered forever. Tributes to her,” Pawar tweeted.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar also expressed grief over Satyanarayan's demise.

"We have lost a humane and empathetic ex-officer. May her soul rest in peace. Condolences to her family members," the veteran leader tweeted.

Maharashtra minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat also took to the micro-blogging site to pay respects to her.

"She was a diligent official and a sensible writer. Tributes to her!" he tweeted.

State NCP president Jayant Patil lauded Satyanarayan for serving the country as an administrative service official and guiding the society through her literature.

Maharashtra BJP head Chandrakant Patil also paid homage to Satyanarayan, and in a tweet said, "Prayers to the god that her soul rests in peace."

Maharashtra ministers Ashok Chavan, Nawab Malik, Dhananjay Munde and Anil Parab, and NCP MP Supriya Sule also expressed grief over the former state election commissioner’s death.

(With inputs from PTI)