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Simultaneous Elections in India UPSC NOTE

 Simultaneous Elections

  • The Union Government notified the formation of a six-member panel to examine and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections’ in the Lok Sabha, State assemblies and local bodies. 

  • The panel has been entrusted with the task of proposing specific amendments to the Constitution and any other legal changes necessary to enable simultaneous elections. 

  • The panel also has to give its opinion on whether the proposed amendments shall require the assent of half of the State assemblies, as stipulated in Article 368. 

  • On October 25, the panel had an interaction with the Law Commission to discuss the roadmap to synchronise Parliamentary and Assembly elections by 2029.

  • The bifurcation of elections happened due to the advancing of Lok Sabha elections by the Congress.

  • As of now the Lok Sabha elections coincide with the Assembly elections in four States namely Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim.

  • The proposal to hold simultaneous elections has been pushed by the BJP since it came to power in 2014. 

  • After the NITI Aayog backed the proposal in 2017, it was mentioned next year in then President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint session of Parliament

  • The Law Commission also released a draft report on August 30, 2018.

  • The report examines the legal-constitutional aspects related to the proposal

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the need to hold simultaneous elections in his Independence Day speech in 2019. 

  • The proposal received support in the Law Commission Report, which is reportedly exploring the feasibility of a common electoral roll.

Legal and constitutional issues

  • The proposal to hold simultaneous elections were to be adopted in principle, it would require a complex and lengthy legal process to implement.

  • First, at least five Articles in the Constitution shall need amendment

  • These articles are Articles 83(2) and 85(2) that relate respectively to the duration and dissolution of the Lok Sabha

  • The legislative agenda would be Articles 172(1) and 174(2), which provide for the duration and dissolution of the State Assemblies

  • Article 85 (1) and 174 (2) allows the President and the Governor to dissolve the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha before the completion of their tenure of five years, under the circumstances mentioned in the Constitution. 

  • Article 83(2) allows the tenure of the Lok Sabha to be extended for one year at a time in case of an Emergency being proclaimed under Article 352. 

  • Article 172(1) makes provision for State assemblies extended for one year at a time in case of an Emergency

  • After the passage of the anti-defection law enshrined in the 10th Schedule (52nd Amendment Act, 1985) and later the Supreme Court judgment in S.R. Bommai case (1994) followed by the High Court judgment in Rameswar Prasad (2006), the decision to dissolve the Vidhan Sabha and impose President Rule under Article 356 is subject to judicial review

  • These amendments need not only the two-third-majority support of both Houses of Parliament but also ratification by at least half of the State Legislatures under Article 368

  • It would also be much more complex and difficult to link general elections with local bodies elections

  • This is because local government is a State subject (seventh schedule, List II) and all the State Legislatures have passed separate Panchayati Raj Acts and Municipal Acts, fixing the tenure of these bodies (five years) as per Article 243(E) and 243 (U) respectively

  • Since all 28 States have their own specific Acts, it would require changes in 56 sets of legal provisions.

What next?

  • The complexity of the issue, focus is going to be on how Lok Sabha and Assembly elections can be held simultaneously. 

  • Multiple constitutional amendments would be required. 

  • Since the proposal involves Centre-State relations, judicial review of the amendment acts shall be a major block. 


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Simultaneous Elections in India UPSC NOTE
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