Panel recommends simultaneous polls

News Excerpt:

The high-level committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind has recommended simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies as the first step and hold municipal and panchayat polls within 100 days of the general election in the next phase.

More on the news:

  • The 22nd Law Commission, which is examining the simultaneous polls issue, is also expected to submit its report to the Law Ministry anytime now and recommend simultaneous polls from the 2029 general election cycle.

Key highlights of the report:

  • To synchronise the elections, the Ram Nath Kovind Committee has suggested that the President set an ‘Appointed Date', which would mark the beginning of the new electoral cycle, through a notification issued on the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after the general elections.
  • State Assemblies formed after the Appointed Date and before the completion of the Lok Sabha’s term would conclude before the subsequent general elections
    • Afterwards, elections to the Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies would be held simultaneously.
  • The panel recommended that fresh elections could be held to constitute a new Lok Sabha in the event of a hung House, a no-confidence motion, or any such event. 
    • Still, the tenure of the House will be “only for the unexpired [remaining] term of the immediately preceding full term of the House.”
  • When fresh elections are held for Legislative Assemblies, such new Assemblies—unless sooner dissolved—shall continue until the end of the full term of the Lok Sabha.
  • To effect these changes, the panel has recommended amendments to Article 83 (duration of Houses of Parliament) and Article 172 (duration of State legislatures) of the Constitution. 
    • The committee reported that this constitutional amendment will not need state ratification.
  • The panel recommended suitable amendments to Article 324A of the Constitution to allow simultaneous elections in panchayats and municipalities and Article 325 to allow the Election Commission of India (ECI), in consultation with State election authorities, to prepare a common electoral roll and voter ID cards. 
    • Presently, the ECI is responsible for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, while State election commissions manage local body polls for municipalities and panchayats.
  • In all, 18 amendments to the Constitution and other statutes have been suggested. 
    • An implementation group has also been recommended to oversee the execution of the recommendations by the committee.

Responses from political parties and other stakeholders:

  • The committee had reached out to 62 political parties, out of which 47 responded32 in support of holding elections simultaneously and 15 against it. 
    • Fifteen parties didn’t submit a response.
  • Four former Chief Justices of India were among the jurists who were consulted, and they supported the move
    • In comparison, three former High Court Chief Justices and one former State Election Commissioner objected.
  • The panel studied election processes in several countries, including South Africa, Sweden, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Belgium, before recommending simultaneous polls for India's Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • The committee also received 21,558 responses from citizens after it had sought a public response.

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