New Delhi: As the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday initiated dialogue with the Opposition parties for ‘one nation one election’ – holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and the Assemblies of 29 States and two Union Territories, the constitutional experts have welcomed the concept saying it is good for curbing the widespread use of money, and for the administrative efficiency.
However, the experts differ on the way to go about it. While former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap says there is no need for any amendment to the Constitution or enacting a new law, senior Supreme Court lawyer K.V. Viswanathan says that the Constitution will have to be amended as it would involve extending life of an existing Assembly or reducing it to coincide with the Lok Sabha elections.
The former top court Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan says that “it is a new idea, how far it is possible, it has to be examined.”
Dr Kashyap says that “there is no constitutional impediment in holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies but it can’t be done in one go by a hammer. It has to be done in phases over a period of ten years before eventually holding elections to Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies together.”
However, Mr Vishwanathan says that while going for one nation one election, exceptions have to be carved out as governments are accountable to the legislatures and situations have to be taken into account where a state is under the President’s rule, or state government itself is reduced to a minority or even the Central government loses majority support.
He said that any such move can’t be at the expense of the “values of democracy, rule of law and the federal structure of the country’s polity.”
“As a concept the rule is welcome, but exceptional situations need to be carved out. Since governments accountability to the legislature is paramount, that cannot be compromised. So where during midterm, the government loses the majority, or Presidents rule is imposed in the states, elections will have to be immediately held. If exceptions are not recognised, the constitutional amendment will violate the basic structure of Democratic form of government, federalism and Rule of law”, says Mr Viswanathan.
He further says that if those exceptional situations are taken care of, the concept of simultaneous poll saves a lot of money, facilitates administrative efficiency and reduces the role of black money in elections. We will also not be accused of being in election mode all the time, with no time left for governance"
Ruling out any need for amending the constitution or enacting a new law, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Kashyap says that what is required the political will of the government at the Centre in going ahesad with the idea. How-ever, he adds a caveat that it should command majority both in Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to go for one nation one election. He says so as a matter of advice to the government.
While focusing on the political will of the government at the Centre, Kashyap says that is no need for evolving a consensus as political parties in the States largely thriving on caste, communal, ethnic foundation and vested interest “will never agree on the elections to be fought on national issues, national ifdentity and national interests.”
Elaborating on that there are no constitutional roadblocks in going ahead with the ides, Kashyap says that the constitution says that “unless dissolved earlier the life of a legislature would be five years”.
Pointing out that none of the 16 Lok Sabha in the past lived their full five years term, Kashyap says that initially we will have to categories assemblies for holding election in phases over a period of ten years before eventually going for one nation one election....