‘One Nation One Election’: Law Commission raises ‘fundamental questions’ on simultaneous polls as political debate intensifies

By: | Published: August 31, 2018 10:15 AM

Simultaneous Elections: The Law Commission has recommended "holding of simultaneous polls" in the draft report as well as “certain inevitable Constitutional amendments”.

 simultaneous electionsCiting that it has the “intention to initiate a healthy and sustainable debate on the issue”, the law panel appealed for “further discussions”

Amidst growing political debate over the idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, the Law Commission has raised some “fundamental questions” in its draft report on the issue. Citing that it has the “intention to initiate a healthy and sustainable debate on the issue”, the law panel appealed for “further discussions and examination on the matter, involving all the stakeholders” before reaching the final resolution.

“We have raised seven fundamental questions and put them in the public domain. We are very happy to have been able to start a robust discussion on this. Fifty MPs came to argue. We want to strengthen the faith of the people in the system. We did not want to give a report to favour anyone. We did not want to submit a half-baked report,” Law Commission Chairman Justice (retired) B S Chauhan was quoted as saying.

Notably, the tenure of 21st Law Commission of India is set to get over on August 31, 2018. The 21st Law Commission was formed on September 1, 2015 following the approval by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Law Commission has recommended “holding of simultaneous polls” in the draft report as well as “certain inevitable Constitutional amendments”. However, the draft report underscored that “the Commission is aware of the fact that holding simultaneous elections is not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution”.

“The Commission has ensured that the amendments to the Constitution and other statutes are kept to the barest minimum… the Commission recommends holding of simultaneous elections to House of the People and the State Legislative Assemblies (except the State of Jammu and Kashmir),” it stated.

However, the law panel has also raised apprehensions over whether “One nation-one poll” idea will “tinker with democracy, the basic structure of the Constitution or the federal polity of the country”.

“Most of the participants in the consultations raised the issue that holding simultaneous elections will adversely affect the above three concepts. However, none could explain as to how and in what manner these principles would be violated…,” the panel said.

Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has talked about two fundamental aspects to this issue. “There are two fundamental aspects to this issue — desirability and steps required for implementation. As far as the former is concerned, simultaneous polls are the desired goal, as was articulated by the EC earlier during 2015-16 itself. There also has been historicity for simultaneous polls for a very long time. However, there are legal, Constitutional as well as operational issues, after the old system ceased to exist. The Law Commission has also upheld the EC’s view. Since the report of the Honourable Law Commission has been released today, it shall be closely studied,” Arora was quoted as saying by IE.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pitched for “widespread” debate on holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies citing that it would result in financial savings for the country, Congress has vehemently opposed the idea.

Commenting on the issue, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat had last week emphatically ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous elections to the state assemblies along with the Lok Sabha polls anytime soon.

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