Law Commission inclined to support Simultaneous Elections, suggests amendments to Constitution

Law Commission inclined to support Simultaneous Elections, suggests amendments to Constitution

Murali Krishnan

The Law Commission of India has expressed inclination to throw its weight behind the proposal to have simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

In a meeting held yesterday, “A Draft Working Paper on Simultaneous Elections –  Constitutional and Legal Perspectives” prepared by the Commission was considered. It was the resolved by the Commission that before finalising and forwarding its Report to the Government of India, the Commission should seek the opinion of all stakeholders including Constitutional Experts, Academia, Political Parties etc.

Accordingly, it has published a summary of the Draft Working Paper.

What are simultaneous Elections?

Simultaneous Elections would imply elections taking place for all three tiers of the government in a synchronised manner. However, the Commission’s paper only deals with elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies since elections to local bodies is a State subject.

The Commission has placed reliance on its own reports of 1983 and 1999, the Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee of 2015 and a 2017 Working Paper of Niti Aayog. The Commission also states that the system of simultaneous elections exists in foreign countries like South Africa, Sweden, Belgium etc.

After alluding briefly to various Constitutional provisions with respect to the same, the Commission has listed, inter alia, the possible recommendations it is likely to make:

  • Simultaneous Recommendations may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, the Representation of People Act, 1951 and Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and those of State Legislative Assemblies.
  • A definition of “simultaneous elections” may be added to Section 2 of the 1951 Act.
  • “No-confidence motion” be replaced with “constructive vote of no-confidence” by amending Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha and a new Rule in the form of 198-a be added. A similar amendment is required in the Rules of Procedure of State Assemblies.
  • In order to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha/ Assembly in the case of a Hung Parliament/ Assembly, the rigour of anti-defection law laid down under Paragraph 2(1)(b) of Tenth Schedule be removed as an exception.
  • Articles 83 and 172 of the Constitution along with section 14 and 15 of the 1951 Act be appropriately amended to incorporate the provision of remainder of the term i.e. post mid term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly so constituted shall be only for the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha or Assembly and not for a fresh term of five years.

Placing reliance on the recommendations made by Standing Committee of the Parliament, the Draft Working Paper also suggests holding elections in phases as a one-time measure in order to start synchronisation of elections. Thus, in the first phase elections to States which are scheduled to go for polls synchronous with Lok Sabha in 2019 can be held together. The rest of the States which will be going to elections in proximity with Lok Sabha elections of 2024, can be synchronised with 2024 General Elections appropriately extending the term of the respective Assemblies. Thereafter, simultaneous elections can be held every five years.

Suggestions to the Draft Working Paper should reach Member Secretary, Law Commission before May 8, 2018.

Read the summary of the Draft Working Paper below.

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