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A Report on Simultaneous Elections

Simultaneous Elections
Why in news?

The High-level committee on One Nation, One Election recently submitted its report to the President.

What is One Nation, One Election?

The second step entails synchronizing local body elections with national and state elections, necessitating ratification by at least half of the states, to be conducted within 100 days.

  • Simultaneous Elections– It refers to structuring the Indian election cycle by synchronizing the elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • Historical context– Simultaneous elections were previously implemented in 7 states in 1957 to streamline the electoral process and enhance administrative efficiency.
  • Decline of simultaneous election– The simultaneous elections which was implemented in 1957 ceased after 1967 due to various factors such as constitutional provisions allowing dismissal of state governments and the collapse of coalition governments.
  • Current scenario– The elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha are held separately (whenever the incumbent government’s 5-year term ends or whenever it is dissolved).
Why the government is in favor of conducting simultaneous elections?

Financial burden– Frequent elections burden the government exchequer with additional expenditure. If the expenditure incurred by political parties is also added, these figures will be even higher.

Uncertainty– Asynchronous elections cause uncertainty and instability, adversely affect supply chains, business investments and economic growth.

Disruption of government machinery– The staggered nature of elections disrupts the functioning of government machinery, leading to administrative challenges and hardships for citizens.

Impact of Model Code of Conduct– The frequent imposition of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) can cause policy paralysis and slows down the pace of the developmental programmes.

Voter’s fatigue– Staggered elections induce ‘voters’ fatigue’ and present a significant challenge in ensuring their participation.

Disrupt duties – The frequent use of government officials and security forces adversely affect discharge of their duties.

What is the key highlighting the committee’s recommendations?
High level committee

Purpose– It was set up to recommend constitutional amendments for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha, State assemblies, and local bodies.

Chairman– Former President Ram Nath Kovind.

Launch year– 2023

Constitutional amendments– The committee suggests amending the Constitution to enable simultaneous elections in two steps.

First step– It involves simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies without requiring state ratification.

The second step involves syncing local body elections with national and state elections, requiring ratification by at least half of the states, to be completed within 100 days.

Article 82(1) was introduced by the committee in the Constitution to establish the process for transitioning to simultaneous elections.

Amendments to tenure require redefining the terms “full term” and “unexpired term” for Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, respectively, in case of dissolution before completion, in Articles 83 and 172.

The new provisions ensure that the replacement Lok Sabha or state Assembly serves only the unexpired term before dissolution upon completion of simultaneous elections.

  1. Amendment of the Constitution is necessary to prepare a single electoral roll and electoral photo identity cards for use in elections to all three tiers of government, requiring ratification by not less than one-half of the states.
  2. In the event of a hung House, a no-confidence motion, or any such event, holding fresh elections should constitute the new Lok Sabha or State Assembly for the unexpired term of the House.
  3. The Election Commission of India will plan and estimate logistical requirements (manpower, polling personnel, EVM/VVPAT, etc.) to meet logistical requirements so that free and fair simultaneous elections are held in all three tiers of government.

Read also Representation of people Act, 1951

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