Legally Speaking | Why Germany’s constructive vote of no-confidence won’t suit simultaneous elections in India - Hindustan Times
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Legally Speaking | Why Germany’s constructive vote of no-confidence won’t suit simultaneous elections in India

Mar 21, 2024 12:11 AM IST

The committee on One Nation, One Poll rejected the Law Commission's recommendation on the German model of no-confidence motion. What does that model entail?

The high-level committee on simultaneous elections headed by the former President of India Ram Nath Kovind submitted its report to President Droupadi Murmu on March 14, 2024. The committee, established in September 2023, was tasked with examining issues related to the holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies in India and making recommendations for a viable framework. The committee consisted of Home Minister Amit Shah, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, former Rajya Sabha Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, NK Singh, former Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission, Dr Subhash C. Kashyap, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, senior advocate Harish Salve, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari and Dr Niten Chandra, IAS.

Former President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind who heads High-Level Committee (HLC) on ‘One Nation, One Election’ presented the report on simultaneous elections in the country to President Droupadi Murmu along with members of the HLC including Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah. (@rashtrapatibhvn) PREMIUM
Former President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind who heads High-Level Committee (HLC) on ‘One Nation, One Election’ presented the report on simultaneous elections in the country to President Droupadi Murmu along with members of the HLC including Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah. (@rashtrapatibhvn)

Holding the view that frequent elections create an atmosphere of uncertainty which slows down the government machinery months before each election, along with the burden of administrative and logistical costs, the committee has favoured the simultaneous elections scheme in place of the existing separate frequent elections.

For synchronising elections, the committee unanimously recommended a two-step way forward. In the first step, simultaneous elections to the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the state legislative assemblies should be held. In the second step, the elections to municipalities and panchayats should be synchronised with Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly elections in such a way that municipality and panchayat elections are held within 100 days of elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

German Model of a constructive vote of no confidence

To maintain the cycle of simultaneous elections, the dissolution of Lok Sabha or state assemblies before the expiry of their tenure poses a challenge. Political situations such as hung assemblies, no-confidence motions or defections can lead to the dissolution of the House or assembly. To address this challenge, the Law Commission of India Draft Report 2018 on Simultaneous Elections recommended the German model of constructive vote of no-confidence motion, inspired by the German Constitution. Under this model, a member or group of members moving a no-confidence motion would have to simultaneously put forward a proposal for forming an alternative government.

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General PDT Achary explained that “constructive vote of no confidence means when you are giving a notice of no confidence against the government, then the successor should also be decided at the same time, and that person must have the majority support of the House. Simply put, you cannot give a no-confidence motion unless you are sure about the successor”. Speaking about the origin of the German model and whether it is suitable for the Indian political system, Achary said, “Germany adopted this system because the governments were unstable there. Because of frequent governments falling, it was necessary for them to adopt such a system. But in India, such a situation doesn’t usually arise. If the government is run by a single party in the majority, there is no question of the government falling in a no-confidence motion. In the case of a coalition government, the question of choosing a successor is not easy. In some cases, there may not be a successor, in that case, there will be dissolution of the House. Hence, the German system of a constructive vote of no confidence is not very relevant here.”

The high-level committee report also rejected this system of constructive vote of no confidence saying “making a motion of no confidence by the Members of the Parliament is not only their right, but also their responsibility. The Committee would not like to dilute this feature of the Indian Parliamentary system”. In cases of hung assemblies, no-confidence motions or defections, the committee recommended fresh elections should be held to constitute the new House. While holding fresh elections for the Lok Sabha, the tenure of the Lok Sabha will be only for the unexpired term of the immediately preceding full term and the expiration of this period shall operate as a dissolution of the House. Whereas in case of holding fresh elections for the state legislative assemblies, then such a new legislative assembly, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue up to the end of the full term of the Lok Sabha.

Prashant Bhaware, a lawyer and researcher, writes about the finer legal points of a case that's making news this week. The views expressed are personal

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