The Election Commission has proposed the idea of “one year, one election” to the Law Commission, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The poll panel made the suggestion in its response to the Law Commission’s April 24 letter in which the latter had sought its views on holding the 2019 Lok Sabha elections along with state elections.
Clubbing elections that are scheduled in a year would be easier than holding simultaneous polls as it does not require five constitutional amendments, unidentified officials told the newspaper.
The Law Commission had asked the poll panel to explain its position on five constitutional matters, and 15 sociopolitical and economic questions that need to be addressed before simultaneous elections can be organised.
At the moment, the commission conducts elections at the same time for states where the term of Assemblies end within a few months of each other. Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits it from notifying elections more than six months before the term of a state assembly expires. In 2017, the poll panel conducted the elections in five states – Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa – at the same time, and the elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later in the year since the terms of their Assemblies ended at different times.
“It is better to hold all elections scheduled in a year at one specific time,” SK Mendiratta, a former legal advisor to the Election Commission, told News 18. “There will be a need to change the laws to extend or curtail the duration of assemblies for the same. It will be up to the political parties to make a consensus.”
Mendiratta told The Indian Express that to implement this proposal, Parliament would need to amend Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. “If the six-month stipulation is extended to nine or 10 months, elections to all states, whose term is expiring in one year, can be held together.”