Law Commission to propose legal framework to hold simultaneous elections

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The Law Commission, in August, is set to recommend a tough legal framework to hold Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together, said highly placed sources on the panel on Wednesday.

“We were not asked whether we support it or not. We were asked to provide the way ahead. We will do that,” said a functionary.

The commission’s function is to recommend amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act to ensure simultaneous polls, however, these recommendations are not binding on the government, but the report will allow an informed debate among political parties and stakeholders, he said.

A Law Commission study paper in April 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.

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 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.

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.

With Political parties divided on the issue NDA constituent Shiromani Akali Dal, the AIADMK, the Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti have supported it.

While, Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party, the Left parties and the JD(S) have opposed the proposal.

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