The Delhi High Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea seeking to ascertain the feasibility of conducting elections for the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies simultaneously in 2024.
A Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said the courts cannot curtail the term of State Assemblies.
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, in his plea, had sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission of India to consider conducting simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to save money, and reduce the burden on security forces and the public administration.
“We are not framers of law. It is the domain of Election Commission to decide when elections will take place. We know our limitations. We are not the lawmakers; we ensure compliance of law. Election Commission of India (ECI) will look into your representation. Nothing beyond that,” the Bench told the petitioner.
“They are the master of elections. They are a constitutional body. They will look into it. We can’t curtail the term of the Assemblies like this,” the Bench added.
The ECI, represented by lawyer Sidhant Kumar, said while the body is “logistically ready to conduct” simultaneous elections, there have to be appropriate amendments to the existing law, which can only be brought about by Parliament.
“It is for Parliament to consider [bringing amendments to the existing law]. We are bound to conduct elections in accordance with law,” Mr. Kumar said.
The High Court disposed of the plea with a direction to the EC to consider the plea as a representation.
The petitioner also sought to direct the Centre and the ECI to ascertain the feasibility of conducting elections on Saturday, Sunday and some holiday to save time for schools, colleges, universities, service industries and manufacturing organisations.
The application claimed that as per a provisional estimate, the conduct of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections entailed an expenditure of almost ₹4,500 crore, and it’s estimated that an undeclared ₹30,000 crore was spent.
Thus, doing away with several separate elections every year is likely to reduce expenditure substantially, it said.