The Commission was called upon to study the issue regarding holding of simultaneous elections to the House of the People and the State Legislative Assemblies by Department of Legal Affairs, and submit a report to the Government thereupon. While the Commission relentlessly involved itself in detailed research and discussions, a working paper and a draft report were placed before it for consideration. The working paper was considered in a meeting held on 17 April 2018 and it was decided that a summary of the paper may be placed in public domain to elicit further comments and opinions. Based on the responses received, consultations held with the stakeholders and detailed study of the issues involved, the Commission has prepared a Draft Report on the subject. This draft Report has been considered by the Commission in its meeting held on 30 August 2018. Though many of the impediments in the way of achieving synchronisation of elections to the House of the People and the State Legislative Assemblies have been addressed, the Commission feels that some of the points would still remain to be pondered upon, such as:
i) Will holding simultaneous elections, by any means tinker with the democracy, basic structure of the Constitution or the federal polity of the country? As per the understanding of the Commission, the meaning of these expressions has been explained in great detail in the Draft Report. 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, to the satisfaction of the Commission.
ii) The suggestions given by various Committees and Commissions to deal with the situation of hung Parliament/Assembly, where no political party has majority to form a Government, propose that the Prime Minister/Chief Minister may be appointed or selected in the same manner as a Speaker of the House/Assembly is elected. Will it be possible? If so, will it be in consonance and in conformity with the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution?
iii) Will such an appointment or selection of the Prime Minister/Chief Minister by consensus amongst the political parties/elected members require amendment to Tenth Schedule to the Constitution? If so, to what extent?
iv) After detailed discussions, the Commission has come to the conclusion that holding simultaneous elections would be ideal as well as desirable, but a workable formula is required to be provided in the Constitution. What other Articles of the Constitution may require amendment(s)/insertion of new clauses or Articles, other than those discussed in the Draft Report?
v) To hold simultaneous elections, are there any other issue(s) apart from those discussed in the Draft Report that would require elaborate study?
vi) Do any of the suggestions /recommendations that the Commission has arrived at violate the constitutional scheme? If so, to what extent?
In view of the complexity of the issues involved, it is desirable to have further discussions and examination on the matter, involving all the stakeholders, once again, before making final recommendations to the Government.
Therefore, with an intention to initiate a healthy and sustainable debate on the issue, the Commission places its Draft Report titled “Simultaneous Elections” in public domain.
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA
30 August 2018
During the Valedictory Address on the Law Day Celebrations 2017, organised by the Law Commission of India and NITI Aayog on 25-26 November 2017, the Prime Minister of India gave a call to start a constructive discussion on the occasion of 57th anniversary of the Constitution, on holding of simultaneous elections in the country. Taking the call as a mandate, the Commission started its study on the subject and prepared a draft working paper. Meanwhile, the Government asked the Commission to undertake the study and submit a report on holding simultaneous elections. The socio political environment was all charged up with the views in favour and against of holding simultaneous elections. Thus the preparation of this report amidst such atmosphere and coming up with balanced recommendations without any bias, that too within a short time frame, was a challenging task. The Commission was assisted by a cross section of experts and stakeholders in formulating its recommendations. The Law Commission would like to express its deepest appreciation to all those who provided various insights on socio-politico-legal issues involved. Special thanks are due to those who provided impetus in stimulating viable recommendations. The Commission would also like to acknowledge with much appreciation the crucial role of the staff and library members. The Commission is privileged to place on record its gratitude to Dr. Subhash C Kashyap, former Secretary General, Lok Sabha; Dr. S Y Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner; and Shri S K Mendiratta, former Legal Advisor, Election Commission of India for the advice given to the Commission from time to time. The Commission is grateful to Shri O P Rawat, Chief Election Commissioner; Shri Sunil Arora and Shri Ashok Lavasa, Election Commissioners, and Shri Umesh Shinha, Sr. Deputy Election Commissioner, for providing valuable inputs during the discussions with them as well as by way of written replies to the Commission. The Commission appreciates the efforts put in by the students of Gujarat National Law University, NUJS, Kolkata and NLSU, Bangalore, who have given valuable suggestions through their working papers, submitted to the Commission. The contribution by the most important stakeholders, the general public, through their responses to the working paper floated by the Commission, have given valuable inputs, needs appreciation. An endeavor like preparation of a report on Simultaneous Elections would have been incomplete without the participation of political parties. The Commission acknowledges the efforts taken by the political parties, both national and regional, who either sent their written representations, or spared their valuable time to interact with the Commission or did both, and the inputs provided by them have been pivotal in framing the recommendations. Special appreciation is due to Ms. Oshin Belove, Consultant, Ms. Nidhi Arora, Consultant, Shri Setu Gupta and Ms. Astha Sharma, former Consultants, whose dedicated research and analysis have been of immense help in preparation of the Report. As a token of encouragement, the Commission would like to place on record the assistance provided by young law students from across the country, who did internship with the Commission from (June-August).
Table of Contents
|1||SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS– MEANING AND SCOPE|
|2||FEASIBILITY OF SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS|
|C.||Effect of Imposition of Model Code of Conduct|
|D.||Simultaneous Elections – Boon or Bane?|
|E.||Effect on Democratic and Constitutional Set up|
|F.||To sum up|
|B.||Representation of the People Act, 1951|
|4||REPORTS AND DISCUSSIONS AVAILABLE ON SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS|
|A.||First Annual Report of the Election Commission of India, 1983:|
|B.||170th Report of the Law Commission of India, „Reform of Electoral Laws‟( 1999):|
|C.||Report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2002 (NCRWC Report):|
|D.||255th Report of the Law Commission of India „Electoral Reforms‟, (2015):|
|E.||79th Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee, 2015|
|F.||Working paper by Niti Aayog|
|H.||Constituent Assembly Debates|
|F.||Forms of Simultaneous Elections the World Over|
|G.||United Kingdom (Fixed Term Parliament)|
|6||SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS VIS-À-VIS DEMOCRACY, BASIC STRUCTURE AND FEDERALISM|
|B.||Doctrine of Basic Structure|
|i)||Right of the People qua the Elections|
|ii)||Right to Vote and Right to Elect (Right to Caste Vote)|
|iii)||Right to Contest Election|
|i)||Supreme Court on Indian Federalism|
|ii)||Indian Constitution – Unitary or Federal?|
|7.||ALLEGATION OF COLOURABLE LEGISLATION IN THE CONTEXT OF SIMALTANEOUS ELECTIONS|
|8.||ISSUES IN IMPLEMENTING SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS|
|A.||Requirements for Synchronisation of Elections|
|i)||Curtailment and Extension|
|ii)||Effect on Council of States / State Legislative Councils|
|iii)||Whether Ratification by States is Required|
|B.||Grounds for Disruption|
|C.||New House of the People/State Assembly for the “Reminder of the Term”|
|9.||RESPONSES AND CONSULTATIONS|
|A.||Response from Stakeholders|
|C.||Consultations with Political Parties|
|D.||News items and other Articles|
|10.||OTHER RELEVANT ISSUES|
|A.||Disqualification on the Ground of Defection to be decided expeditiously|
|C.||Selection of Leader of House by Consensus|
|D.||Effective Exercise of Voting Rights by NRIs|
|12||DRAFT SUGGESTIONS / RECOMMENDATIONS|
|A.||Framework for Synchronisation of Elections|
|B.||Ratification by States|
|C.||No Confidence Motion|
|D.||Hung Parliament / Hung Assembly|
|F.||Remainder of the Term|
|G.||Other Relevant Suggestions / Recommendations|
|I||List of State Legislative Assemblies for which Elections were held during 2014- 2016|
|II||Election cycle in India from (2003- 2017)|
|III||Sixteen General Elections held so far|
|IV||Suggested Proposal for Simultaneous Elections and Approximate extension and curtailment of the State Assembly terms in months.|
|V||Summary of Written Representations Submitted by Political Parties|
|VI||Proceedings of the Consultation with Political Parties|
|List of Cases|