Simultaneous elections in 2019? It can happen, says Law Commission draft paper but there’s a condition

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New Delhi | Published: April 11, 2018 8:00:03 PM

Simultaneous elections in India: The working paper will be discussed by the 'full commission' on April 17. It is a draft document and no final decision has been taken.

Seeking to give shape to the government’s concept of ‘one nation, one election’, a law commission internal working paper has recommended holding of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls in two phases beginning 2019. The second phase of simultaneous polls can take place in 2024, the document states.

The document has proposed amending the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act to shorten or extend the terms of state legislative assemblies to effect the move. The amendments are in line with the ones recommended by a parliamentary panel and the Niti Aayog.

The working paper will be discussed by the ‘full commission’ on April 17. “It is a draft document and no final decision has been taken. If members suggest, changes could be made before a final report is submitted to the law ministry,” a top law panel functionary told PTI here today.

The states which are recommended to be covered under phase I are where assembly polls are due in 2021. These include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

States which will come under phase II are Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Delhi and Punjab. To hold elections in these states along with LS polls, the terms of the assemblies have to be extended.

Based on a suggestion made by the Election Commission, the working paper also says that a no confidence motion against the government should be followed by a confidence motion. This would ensure that if the opposition does not have numbers to form an alternative government, the regime in office cannot be removed.

Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat had a word of caution on simultaneous polls when he recently said that the legal framework required for holding of the two elections together will take a “lot of time” to get ready.

“We cannot put the cart before the horse. Logistical issues are subservient to legal framework. Unless legal framework is in place, we don’t have to talk about anything else because legal framework will take a lot of time, making constitutional amendment to (changing) the law, all the process will take time,” he said.

He had said once the legal framework is ready, the EC will deliver. “… EC is a creation of the Constitution. We have to perform willy-nilly, deliver the election, whatever way prescribed in the law,” he had said.

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