Law Commission of India, the government’s highest law advisory body has released draft White Paper recommending holding of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan has decided to seek opinion of all stakeholders, including political parties, on the issue.
Law Commission’s recommendations
Law Commission noted that simultaneous elections were held in country during first two decades after Independence up to 1967. Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by dissolution of Lok Sabha led to disruption of conduct of simultaneous elections.
Simultaneous elections can be held now in the nation by amending Constitution, Representation of the People (RPI) Act, 1951 and Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha/State Legislative Assemblies. Moreover, definition of simultaneous elections should be added to Section 2 of RPI Act, 1951.
Issuance of Notification: The statutory limit of six months for issuance of notification of general elections be appropriately extended by way of amendments to section 14 and 15 of RPI Act, 1951.
No-confidence motion: The parties which introduce no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government as no-confidence motion and premature dissolution of House is major roadblocks to simultaneous elections.
Anti-defection law: The rigour of ‘Anti-defection Law’ laid down under paragraph 2(1) (b) of Tenth Schedule be removed as exception in order to prevent stalemate in the Lok Sabha/Assembly in case of Hung Parliament/Assembly.
Mid-term elections: In case of mid-term elections, new Lok Sabha or Assembly will only serve the remainder of term of previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years. For this Article 83 and 172 of the Constitution along with sections 14 and 15 of the 1951 Act should be amended to incorporate provision regarding remainder of the term.
Selection of Prime Minister/CMs: The prime minister/chief ministers should be elected to lead Lok Sabha/Assembly, by full house like electing speaker of Lok Sabha. This will potentially provide stability to government and in turn to Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly
Constitutional amendments: Centre should get the Constitutional amendments, if agreed upon, to be ratified by all the States so as to avoid any challenge to them.
The idea of ‘one nation one election’ has been proposed for many years starting with Law Commission suggestion in 1999. Most recently, Parliament’s standing committee 2015 report suggested holding simultaneous election to save public money and end policy paralysis because of impact of the model code of conduct. It had pegged the cost of holding elections for Lok Sabha and state assemblies at Rs. 4500 crore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had pitched for this idea.