Law Commission likely to back simultaneous elections for 2029
The law panel is likely to recommend synchronised elections in the next five years, so that simultaneous elections can be rolled out by 2029
The 22nd Law Commission of India is reportedly set to submit a report on the feasibility of conducting simultaneous elections in the country and recommending it in all likelihood for the 2029 elections. The Commission, headed by Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, has been working on the final report since February 2023.
The report, which will be submitted to the law ministry, currently headed by Arjun Meghwal, will be one of the three reports scheduled to be submitted. The other two are on reducing the minimum age of consent under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and on the recommendation of a law to provide for online filing of First Information Reports.
The submission of the simultaneous election report comes at a time when the government, citing 'national interest', has formed a high-level committee headed by former president Ram Nath Kovind to 'examine and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections' to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies, municipalities and panchayats.
The high-level committee had met for the first time on September 23. The meeting was attended by Union home minister Amit Shah, Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, former Rajya Sabha member Ghulam Nabi Azad, former chairman of the 15th Finance Commission NK Singh, former secretary general of the Lok Sabha Subhash C Kashyap and former chief vigilance commissioner Sanjay Kothari.
According to reports, officials said that the government may send the Law Commission’s report to the Kovind-led committee for their perusal. The law panel is likely to recommend synchronised elections in the next five years, so that simultaneous elections can be rolled out by 2029.
According to a government statement, the panel decided to invite the Law Commission and political parties to make suggestions on the issue.
The suggestions by a previous law commission have already included advancing or postponing the timing of elections in certain states to enable simultaneous polls for all state assemblies and the Lok Sabha.
The panel allegedly pointed out that if simultaneous elections were not feasible, all elections due in a calendar year could be held together. This requires at least five Constitutional amendments. The panel also mentioned that the previous commission's suggestions regarding a hung House and no-confidence motions have been taken into consideration.
In 2018, the 21st Law Commission headed by Justice BS Chauhan (retired) had, in a draft report, also endorsed the ‘one nation, one election’ plan. However, the Commission had also recommended extended discussions on the matter with all the stakeholders before making a final recommendation to the government. The term of the Commission had ended before it could make its final recommendations.
The 22nd Law Commission was constituted for three years in February 2020, but its chairperson Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, the former chief justice of Karnataka High Court, was appointed in November 2022.