Law panel recommends tough legal framework to hold simultaneous polls

Lok Sabha, Right to Information Amendment Bill, The Federal, English News Website

As the government toys with the idea of holding simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and state assemblies, the Law Commission has recommended a tough legal framework for such a gigantic exercise.

The law panel, in its draft recommendations made in last August, recommended amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act to ensure simultaneous elections.

Simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies can be held in two phases, provided at least two provisions of the Constitution are amended and ratified by majority of the states, the Commission had recommended.

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Agreeing with the view of the law panel, former chief election commissioner T S Krishnamurthy said that the ‘one nation one election’ idea is very attractive but cannot be put into practice without a constitutional amendment providing for fixed tenure for legislatures.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the issue of ‘one nation, one election’ with heads of various political parties which have at least one MP either in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Krishnamurthy, who oversaw the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, said that a lot of administrative arrangements, including increasing the strength of paramilitary forces for poll duties, might be required for holding simultaneous elections but they are possible.

The idea has several advantages, he said, but the biggest impediment in its implementation is constitutional provision about to a no-confidence motion and related issues.

“The only way out is amendment by which you say… a vote of confidence will be effective only if some other person is elected as a leader; otherwise the old government will continue. Unless you provide for fixed tenure of the House, it’s not possible,” he stated.
“…Transitional provisions may be required because some Houses would have had two-and-a-half years (of its tenure), some would have had four-and-a-half years, like that.”

“Transitional provision providing for extending the (tenure of) Houses to a common date may be required,” Krishnamurthy said.

The law panel document stated that the leader of the majority party should be elected prime minister or chief minister by the entire House (Lok Sabha or state Assembly) to ensure stability of the government as well as the Lok Sabha or the Assembly.

The report proposed amending the Constitution [Articles 83(2) and 172(1) dealing with the tenures of Lok Sabha and state assemblies] and the Representation of the People Act to extend the terms of state legislative assemblies to effect the move.

It suggested that in case a government fell mid-term, the term of the new government would be for the remaining period “and not for a fresh five-year term”.

“As an abundant caution and in order to avoid a challenge (in the courts) to amendments on the ground of not having obtained ratification by majority of the states, such ratification could be obtained for the proposed (constitutional) amendment,” the report said.

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