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Law panel seeks statute tweak for simultaneous polls

Opting for a wider debate on the issue, the panel decided to invite suggestions from the people as well as stakeholders from political parties, academia, and constitutional experts among others.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2018 23:55 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Simultaneous polls,Lok Sabha,State assemblies
The proposals also speak of doing away with the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha or the state assembly with a constructive vote of no confidence. (File photo)

Simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies will require amendments to the Constitution as well as “radical changes” to the existing electoral laws and the conduct of the business rules of the LS and state assemblies, the Law Commission of India decided in its meeting on Tuesday.

Listing out “possible recommendations” in its draft working paper, titled ‘Simultaneous Elections – Constitutional and Legal Perspectives’, the panel agreed upon a number of legislative changes necessary for implementing the process of holding simultaneous elections, a top official said. “The changes cannot happen without complete political consensus,” he added.

Opting for a wider debate on the issue, the panel decided to invite suggestions from the people as well as stakeholders from political parties, academia, and constitutional experts among others. “It was unanimously resolved that the commission, before finalising the report, should seek public opinion,” Justice BS Chauhan, chairman of the commission, said. The commission has set a deadline of May 8 for submitting responses.

The changes listed in the draft include: amending the Constitution by a special majority in Parliament and ratification by more than half of the states; amending the Representation of the People Act, 1951; doing away with anti-defection law and parts of Schedule X of the Constitution that lays down the rules of disqualification of legislators, in case of a hung House. The anti-defection law does not allow party legislators to go against the party whip.

The recommendations also speak of doing away with the “no-confidence motion” in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies with a “constructive vote of no confidence”.

In the event of a mid-term poll, the new House should only be for the remainder of the term, the commission’s draft suggests.

“No confidence motion, if passed, will curtail the term of the Lok Sabha/state assembly abruptly,” the draft reasons.

The panel is of the view that a constructive vote of no confidence (allowing Parliament to withdraw confidence from a head of government only if there is a motion of confidence in a successor) will prevent early curtailment of term.

The proposals also suggest amending the election laws to include the phrase “simultaneous elections.”

A constitutional expert consulted by the commission and the government on the subject, who did not want to be named, said, “Not all these suggestions are feasible”.

The leader of the majority party should be elected Prime Minister or Chief minister in a House by the members through consensus, it suggests.

“This will potentially provide stability to the government and, in turn, to the Lok Sabha/assembly,” one of the proposals says.

Chauhan said the panel will study the suggestions and comments that come in before finalising its proposals to the Centre.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 22:56 IST