New Delhi: The Law Commission is set to recommend a tough legal framework this month to hold Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together, highly placed sources on the panel said today.
“We were not asked whether we support it or not. We were asked to provide the way ahead. We will do that,” a functionary said.
The commission would recommend amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act to ensure simultaneous polls. The recommendations of the commission are not binding on the government, but the report will allow an informed debate among political parties and stakeholders, he said.
Simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Assemblies can be held in two phases beginning in 2019, provided at least two provisions of the Constitution are amended and ratified by majority of the states, a Law Commission study paper had said in April. According to the working paper, the second phase of simultaneous polls can take place in 2024.
The document stated that the leader of the majority party be elected prime minister or chief minister by the entire House (Lok Sabha or state Assembly) to ensure stability of the government as well as the Lok Sabha or the Assembly.
The document proposed amending the Constitution (Articles 83(2) and 172(1) dealing with tenures of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies) and the Representation of the People Act to extend the terms of state legislative Assemblies to effect the move.
It suggested that in case a government fell mid-term, the term of the new government would be for the remaining period “and not for a fresh five-year term”.
“As an abundant caution and in order to avoid a challenge (in the courts) to amendments on the ground of not having obtained ratification by majority of the states, such ratification could be obtained for the proposed (constitutional) amendment,” the working paper said.
The states which are recommended to be covered under phase I are where Assembly polls are due in 2021. These include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. States which will come under phase II are Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Delhi and Punjab. To hold elections in these states along with Lok Sabha polls, the terms of the Assemblies have to be extended.
Based on a suggestion made by the Election Commission, the working paper also said that a no-confidence motion against the government should be followed by a confidence motion. This would ensure that if the opposition does not have numbers to form an alternative government, the regime in office cannot be removed.
Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat had a word of caution on simultaneous polls when he recently said that the legal framework required for holding of the two elections together would take a “lot of time” to get ready.
“We cannot put the cart before the horse. Logistical issues are subservient to legal framework. Unless legal framework is in place, we don’t have to talk about anything else because legal framework will take a lot of time, making constitutional amendment to (changing) the law, all the process will take time,” he said.
He had said once the legal framework is ready, the EC would deliver. “. EC is a creation of the Constitution. We have to perform willy-nilly, deliver the election, whatever way prescribed in the law,” he had said.
Political parties are divided on the issue. Besides NDA constituent Shiromani Akali Dal, the AIADMK, the Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti have supported it. The Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party, the Left parties and the JD(S) has opposed the proposal.