The Ministry of Law and Justice announced a monumental decision on September 2, 2023: the formation of a High Level Committee (HLC) to explore the possibility of ‘One Nation, One Election’ in India. This initiative aims to streamline the electoral process, reduce governmental expenditure, and eliminate disruptions caused by multiple election cycles.

Background: For years, the possibility of simultaneous elections has been a topic of extensive debate. The continuous cycle of elections diverts attention and resources away from governance, making it a crucial issue to address. Various reports and committees, including the 170th Law Commission Report, have endorsed the idea.

Composition of the HLC: The HLC is a melting pot of expertise and experience. Chaired by Shri Ram Nath Kovind, former President of India, the committee includes political heavyweights, legal experts, and former bureaucrats.

Terms and Reference: The HLC’s mandate is exhaustive, to say the least. Its primary responsibilities include:

  • Examining the feasibility of holding simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Municipalities, and Panchayats.
  • Recommending constitutional and legislative amendments.
  • Providing a framework for synchronizing election cycles.
  • Recommending safeguards for the continuity of simultaneous elections.
  • Analyzing logistical needs, including voting machines and manpower.

What the HLC Will Examine: Apart from the feasibility, the HLC will delve into nuanced issues like the implications of a hung Parliament or Assembly, no-confidence motions, and defections. It will also examine the use of a single electoral roll for all elections, which can be a game-changer in electoral logistics.

Expected Outcomes: The committee has been directed to start its functions immediately and make recommendations as quickly as possible. It will entertain all representations and opinions that facilitate its work.

Funding and Logistics: The Ministry of Law and Justice will support the HLC by providing office space, secretarial assistance, and other logistical needs. A separate budgetary allocation will cover the expenditure.

Conclusion: The formation of the High Level Committee on ‘One Nation, One Election’ is a pivotal step in rethinking India’s electoral system. The diverse and experienced panel is well-equipped to scrutinize all facets of this complex issue. As the committee embarks on its mission, the nation watches closely, for its recommendations could very well reshape the electoral landscape of the country. Given the significance of elections in a democracy, the HLC’s findings will undoubtedly be of monumental importance.

New Delhi, the 2nd September, 2023

F. No. H-11019/03/2023-Leg.II.—WHEREAS elections to the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of States were mostly held simultaneously from 1951-52 to 1967 after which this cycle got broken and now, elections are held almost every year and within a year too at different times, which result in massive expenditure by the Government and other stakeholders, diversion of security forces and other electoral officers engaged in such elections from their primary duties for significantly prolonged periods, disruption in developmental work on account of prolonged application of Model Code of Conduct, etc.;

AND WHEREAS the Law Commission of India in its 170th Report on Reforms of the Electoral Laws observed that: “This cycle of elections every year, and in the out of season, should be put an end to. We must go back to the situation where the elections to Lok Sabha and all the Legislative Assemblies are held at once. It is true that we cannot conceive or provide for all the situations and eventualities that may arise whether on account of the use of Article 356 (which of course has come down substantially after the decision of Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai vs Union of India) or for other reasons, yet the holding of a separate election to a Legislative Assembly should be an exception and not the rule. The rule ought to be ‘one election once in five years for Lok Sabha and all the Legislative Assemblies’.”;

AND WHEREAS the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in its 79th Report on ‘Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Election to the House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies’ submitted in December, 2015 has also examined the matter and recommended an alternative and practical method of holding simultaneous elections in two phases;

NOW, THEREFORE, in view of the above and that in the national interest it is desirable to have simultaneous elections in the country, the Government of India hereby constitutes a High Level Committee [hereinafter referred to as ‘HLC’] to examine the issue of simultaneous elections and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections in the country.

1. The HLC shall comprise of the following persons, namely: —


Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Former President of India Chairman
2. Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Cooperation, Government of India Member
3. Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Single Largest Party in Opposition, Lok Sabha Member
4. Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Former Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha Member
5. Shri N.K.Singh, Former Chairman, 15th Finance Commission Member
6. Dr. Subhash C. Kashyap, Former Secretary General, Lok Sabha Member
7. Shri Harish Salve, Senior Advocate Member
8. Shri Sanjay Kothari, Former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Member.

2. Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India shall attend the meetings of the HLC as Special Invitee.

3. Shri Niten Chandra, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Legal Affairs shall be Secretary to the HLC.

4. The terms and reference of the HLC shall be to—

(a) examine and make recommendation for holding simultaneous elections to the House of the People (Lok Sabha), State Legislative Assemblies, Municipalities and Panchayats, keeping in view the existing framework under the Constitution of India and other statutory provisions, and for that purpose, examine and recommend specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act, 1950, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the rules made thereunder and any other law or rules which would require amendments for the purpose of holding simultaneous elections;

(b) examine and recommend, if the amendments to the Constitution would require ratification by the States;

(c) analyse and recommend possible solution in a scenario of simultaneous elections emerging out of hung House, adoption of no-confidence motion, or defection or any such other event;

(d) suggest a framework for synchronisation of elections and specifically, suggest the phases and time frame within which simultaneous elections may be held if they cannot be held in one go and also suggest any amendments to the Constitution and other laws in this regard and propose such rules that may be required in such circumstances;

(e) recommend necessary safeguards for ensuring the continuity of the cycle of simultaneous elections and recommend necessary amendments to the Constitution, so that the cycle of simultaneous elections is not disturbed;

(f) examine the logistics and manpower required, including EVMs, VVPATs, etc., for holding such simultaneous elections;

(g) examine and recommend the modalities of use of a single electoral roll and electoral identity cards for identification of voters in elections to the House of the People (Lok Sabha), State Legislative Assemblies, Municipalities and Panchayats.

5. The HLC shall commence functioning immediately and make recommendations at the earliest.

6. The headquarters of the HLC shall be at New Delhi.

7. The HLC may decide its own procedure for conducting its meetings and other relevant functions.

8. The HLC may hear and entertain all persons, representations and communications which in the opinion of the HLC shall facilitate its work and enable it to finalise its recommendations.

9. The Chairman and members of the HLC shall be paid allowances as follows—

(a) Chairman of the HLC shall be entitled for such allowances as provided in the President’s Emoluments and Pension Act, 1951;

(b) Members of the HLC who are Member of Parliament, shall be entitled to such allowances as defined in clause (a) of section 2 of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959;

(c) All other Members of the HLC shall be entitled to Travelling Allowance at the rates and as per rules applicable to the government servants of the highest grade.

10. The Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice shall provide Office space, secretarial assistance and other logistic s support to the HLC.

11. The expenditure of the HLC shall be met through a separate budgetary allocation by the Government under the relevant budget heads of the Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department).


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