Ram Nath Kovind-Led Panel Summits 'One Nation One Election in 2029' Report To Prez Murmu

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Ram Nath Kovind-Led Panel Summits ‘One Nation One Election in 2029’ Report To Prez Murmu

| Updated: March 14, 2024 20:20

Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the High-Level Committee, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, submitted its comprehensive report on ‘One Nation, One Election’(ONOE) to President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday.

The report, spanning 18,626 pages, is the result of extensive consultations with stakeholders, expert inputs and 191 days of research work since the committee’s formation on September 2, 2023.

The committee concluded in its report that its recommendations would significantly enhance transparency, inclusivity, and voter confidence. It stated, “Overwhelming support for holding simultaneous elections will spur the development process and deepen the foundation of our democracy. It will also realise the aspiration of India that is Bharat.”

The report recommended that simultaneous polls be held for the House of People and State Legislative Assemblies. It also suggested that elections to municipalities be conducted within 100 days of holding polls at the House of People and State Legislative Assemblies.

Post the Lok Sabha election, an appointed date is to be set in the first sitting of the House. All state assemblies formed subsequently will have tenure only till 2029, the report stated. “Thereafter, all General elections to the House of the People and all State Legislative Assemblies shall be held together simultaneously.”

The Kovind-led committee also proposed the constitution of an ‘Implementation Group’ to oversee the execution of their recommendations. The group is tasked with examining and making recommendations for holding simultaneous elections within the existing framework under the Constitution of India and other statutory provisions.

The report recommends that in the event of a Hung House, no-confidence motion, or any such event, fresh elections may be held to constitute the new House. “Where fresh elections are held for the House of the People, the tenure of the House of the People will be only for the unexpired term of the immediately preceding full term of the House of the People and the expiration of this period shall operate as a dissolution of the House.”

The report added, “Where fresh elections are held for the State Legislative Assemblies, then such new Legislative Assembly unless sooner dissolved, shall continue upto the end of the full term of the House of the People.”

The committee recommended the introduction of a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Parliament amending Article 83 (Duration of Houses of Parliament) and Article 172 (Duration of State Legislatures). This Constitutional Amendment will not need ratification by the States.

Earlier, in January, the Law Commission of India had said that one of the biggest hurdles were the Constitutional Amendments needed to facilitate ‘One Nation, One Election’.

The idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ refers to holding simultaneous elections across the country, which means, polls for Lok Sabha and state assemblies will be held together. The constitution of the committee shows the government’s seriousness in tackling the tricky issue where at least 18 states will be impacted in a major way as their state election is scheduled significantly different from that of the Lok Sabha.

The idea was first proposed in the 1980s, with the Election Commission suggesting a system for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

In its 170th report in May 1999, the Law Commission, headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, advocated for a return to simultaneous elections. However, official discussions on the idea began under the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

In 2022, then Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra stated that the Election Commission was fully prepared and capable of conducting simultaneous elections. The Law Commission sought the views of stakeholders, including political parties, the Election Commission, bureaucrats, academicians and experts on the proposal to hold simultaneous elections in the nation in December of the same year.

However, the proposal has faced persistent opposition from several political parties. Recently, the Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted a resolution against the Centre’s proposed ‘One Nation, One Election’ policy, terming it impractical and undemocratic. Chief Minister M K Stalin, who moved the resolutions, described the proposal as ‘autocratic’.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee also expressed her reservations about the feasibility of ONOE, citing India’s federal structure. She urged the Election Commission to consider the matter very sincerely, emphasising the need for rationality in this particular case.

The Aam Aadmi Party has also strongly opposed the idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’, stating that it would damage the idea of parliamentary democracy, the basic structure of the Constitution and the federal polity of the country.

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