Govt panel to study simultaneous polls

Source: The post is based on the article “Govt panel to study simultaneous polls  published in Livemint on 2nd September 2023

What is the News?

The Government of India has constituted a committee headed by former president of India Ram Nath Kovind to explore the possibility of “One nation, One election”.

What is ‘one nation, one election’?

Source: Hindustan Times

The concept of “one nation, one election” refers to holding simultaneous elections across the country. 

It implies that elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies across India will be held simultaneously — with voting presumably taking place around the same time.

What is the history of ‘one nation, one election’?

Simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies were a norm in India till 1967. The Lok Sabha and state legislatures went to elections together in 1952 and 1957.

In 1959, this cycle was first broken in Kerala when the government of Jawaharlal Nehru used Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss the government of Chief Minister E M S Namboodiripad.

In the 1967 elections, the Congress party suffered defeat in many states. But the governments were unstable, and many of these Assemblies were dissolved before their terms were over, resulting in the separation of the election cycles of many states from that of the Lok Sabha.

How has matters moved on One Nation One Election since this government came in power?

Parliamentary Standing committee report: In 2015, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, compiled a report on ‘Feasibility of Holding Simultaneous Elections to House of People (Lok Sabha) and State Legislative Assemblies’.

– The committee said that holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies would reduce: (i) the massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separate

elections; (ii) the policy paralysis that results from the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct during election time; (iii) impact on delivery of essential services and (iv) burden on crucial manpower that is deployed during election time.

What are the arguments against One Nation One Election?

The arguments against One Nation One Election include: complexity of such an exercise, the widely held view that simultaneous polls would benefit the nationally dominant party at the cost of regional players and the complications that would arise if any of the governments were to collapse before completing its term.

What did the Law Commission say on the One Nation One Election?

In a draft report in 2018, the Law Commission headed by Justice B S Chauhan held that simultaneous elections could not be held within the existing framework of the Constitution.

These could be held together through appropriate amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.At least 50% of the states may ratify the constitutional amendments. 

The Commission recommended that all elections due in a calendar year be conducted together. 

Since a no-confidence motion, if passed, may curtail the term of Lok Sabha or an Assembly, the Law Commission recommended replacing the “no-confidence motion” with a “constructive vote of no-confidence” through appropriate amendments — a government may only be removed if there is confidence in an alternative government.

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