Parliamentary Panel Says Simultaneous Elections Will Reduce Voter Apathy
Voters stand in a queue to cast their vote during the Delhi Assembly elections at a polling station, in Uttam Nagar area of New Delhi. (Source: PTI)

Parliamentary Panel Says Simultaneous Elections Will Reduce Voter Apathy

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Batting for holding of simultaneous elections in the country, a parliamentary committee on Tuesday said this will reduce the burden on the exchequer, expenditure of political parties and also ensure that human resources are optimally utilised.

"The committee also believes that simultaneous elections will reduce voters apathy of frequent elections and will enthuse general population and voters in particular which will ultimately enhance voters participation in the electoral process," the department-related standing committee on law and justice, and personnel ministries said in its report on demands for grants for the law ministry.

The report was tabled in both Houses on Tuesday.

The committee said it is of the view that the idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ or simultaneous elections is not new to the country as the first three Lok Sabha elections in 1952, 1957 and 1962 were held simultaneously only and it can be brought into the mainstream with suitable amendments to the Constitution.

"In view of this, certain provisions of the Constitution may be amended to have fixed terms for local bodies, legislative assemblies and the Lok Sabha for holding simultaneous elections. The terms of legislative assemblies and Lok Sabha are also required to be synchronised with one another and the mechanism in this regard requires to be evolved with political consensus as the term of the respective state assemblies need to be reduced or increased," the report said.

It said having continuous elections around the year whether it is for local bodies, state assemblies or Lok Sabha, put a big strain on the state machinery which further causes hurdles in governance.

"Our country remains in election mode throughout the year," the report observed.

The first, second and third elections after promulgation of the Constitution were held simultaneously. However, premature dissolution of some legislative assemblies in 1968 and 1969 caused discontinuation of holding simultaneous elections, it noted.

"The renewed emphasis on the concept of simultaneous elections was made in 1983 when the Election Commission brought out its first annual report and recommended for holding simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies as it will reduce expenditure and ensure effective use of manpower and human resources," the report noted.

The then Law Commission headed by Justice BP Jeevan Reddi in its 170th Report in 1999 on Reform of Electoral Laws also favoured holding of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies as it will ensure stability in governance, the panel said.

A couple of years ago, the Law Commission, this time under Justice BS Chauhan (retd.), had recommended holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies to save public money.

The draft submitted to the law ministry had, however, cautioned that holding simultaneous elections is not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution.

It had recommended amendment to the Constitution and electoral laws.

The Centre has been toying with the idea for quite some time now. The government think-tank, NITI Aayog, had suggested synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance.

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