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India 15-Mar, 2024

HLC submits ‘One Nation One Election’ report to the President: A look at key highlights of the report

By: Team India Tracker

HLC submits ‘One Nation One Election’ report to the President: A look at key highlights of the report

The upcoming Lok Sabha elections would also not be impacted by the Kovind panel findings. Image Source: Press Information Bureau

The report, which has 18,626 pages, is the result of 191 days of research effort and intensive meetings with experts and stakeholders since its commencement on September 2, 2023.

The High Level Committee on One Nation, One Election, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, recommended in a report delivered to President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday that elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies be held simultaneously. Following this, elections for local bodies, such as municipalities and panchayats, should also be "synchronised" so that they take place within a hundred days of the concurrent state and national elections.
The report, which has 18,626 pages, is the result of 191 days of research effort and intensive meetings with experts and stakeholders since its commencement on September 2, 2023. However, the report that has been put in the public domain is a 321-page one.

In addition to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, former Rajya Sabha Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, former chairman of the finance commission NK Singh, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash Kashyap, and eminent counsel Harish Salve, the panel is led by Ram Nath Kovind.

It is also anticipated that the 22nd Law Commission, which is looking into the matter of simultaneous polls, will report to the Law Ministry at any time and suggest simultaneous polls starting with the general election cycle of 2029. The upcoming Lok Sabha elections would also not be impacted by the Kovind panel findings. In the event of a hung House, a no-confidence resolution, or any other circumstance of that kind, the panel suggested that new elections be conducted to form a new Lok Sabha; however, the House's term will be limited to the "unexpired [remaining] term of the immediately preceding full term of the House."

The panel suggested suitable amendments to Article 324A of the Constitution, which would permit panchayat and municipal elections to take place simultaneously, and Article 325, which would permit the Election Commission of India (ECI) to create voter ID cards and a common electoral roll after consulting with State election authorities. The report stated that the States would have to ratify both of these constitutional revisions. Currently, State election commissions oversee local body elections for municipalities and panchayats, while the ECI is in charge of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

 Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, was also invited to join the panel but turned it down, calling it a complete farce. Special invitee to the panel is Arjun Ram Meghwal, the Minister of Law.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been accused by the opposition parties of formulating a policy that is against the fundamentals of democracy, unworkable, and not protected by the Indian Constitution. The DMK-led state assembly of Tamil Nadu passed a resolution opposing the idea of One Nation One Poll. Up until 1967, this idea was followed, but it was interrupted for a number of reasons, including defections, firings, and government dissolutions.

According to the "List of Responses from Political parties" included in the report, up to 47 political parties offered their opinions on the idea. According to the panel report, of these, 32 expressed agreement with simultaneous elections and 15 expressed disapproval.

According to the study, those opposed to simultaneous elections contend that they are unconstitutional because they would force state legislative assemblies to dissolve early, which would go "against the will of the people." Additionally, the opponents contend that any modifications to the terms would go against the fundamental framework of the Constitution since it sets fixed terms for Parliament and Assemblies. The report emphasises that while Articles 83 and 172 provide that the term must not exceed five years, they do not set a minimum term length of five years. The report further highlights that the simultaneous polls do not harm the citizens’ rights under Part III or rule of law or any other feature such as a free and independent judiciary.

Numerous political parties have said that the scheme does not contain any provisions to solve the issue of a hung parliament/ assembly. Here the report states that the Sarkaria Commission examined the problem and offered recommendations for how to solve it. The Governor may take the following actions, in the same order of preference, in the absence of a majority: 1) The government should be formed by a coalition formed prior to the election; 2) the largest party should make the claim with the backing of other parties, including independents; 3) a coalition of parties formed after the election may also be invited; 4) a coalition formed after the election in which some coalition members form the government and other parties support it from the outside.

As per the sources, the first simultaneous polls might happen as early as 2029 if the newly elected government following the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 accepts the committee's advice and starts the procedure right away. All states with elections scheduled for June 2024 to May 2029 would experience this transition period, with up to 26 states having their tenure end concurrently with the 18th Lok Sabha.

 

 

 

 

 

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