The issue of holding simultaneous Parliamentary and Assembly elections has been referred to the Law Commission for a practicable roadmap and a framework can be worked out, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.
In a written reply, Mr. Rijiju also cited a report of a Parliamentary panel which noted that frequent elections lead to “disruption” of normal public life and impact the functioning of essential services and that simultaneous polls would reduce the massive expenditure incurred to conduct separate elections every year.
Also read: The Hindu Explains: One nation, one election
Between 2014 and 2022, there were as many as 50 State Legislative Assembly elections. According to standing instructions, the entire expenditure on the conduct of elections to the Lok Sabha is borne by the Centre and the expenditure on the conduct of elections to the State legislatures is borne by the respective State governments when such polls are held independently. In case the elections are held simultaneously, the expenditure is borne by the States concerned and the Centre on a 50:50 basis.
The funds disbursed to the States/Union Territories between 2014 and 2022 amounted to ₹7,432 crores, the Minister added.
Mr. Rijiu said a Parliamentary panel had examined the issue of simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies in consultation with various stakeholders including the Election Commission (EC).
“The committee has given certain recommendations in this regard.... The matter now stands referred to the Law Commission for further examination to work out a practicable roadmap and framework for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies,” he said.
In its draft report, the 21st Law Commission had said it was convinced that “there exists a viable environment, necessitating the holding of simultaneous elections to the House of the People and the State Legislatures. Simultaneous elections can be seen as a solution to prevent the country from being in constant election mode.”
In response to another query on setting up regional benches of the Supreme Court, the Minister said the Law Commission has thrice recommended that the Supreme Court can be split by setting up a Constitutional Court in Delhi and Courts of Appeal or Federal Courts that would sit in North, South, East, West and Central India.
While the 10th and the 11th Law Commissions made the above suggestions, the 18th Law Commission too made a similar suggestion.
“The matter was referred to the Chief Justice of India, who has informed that after consideration of the matter, the Full Court in its meeting held on 18th February, 2010, found no justification in setting up of the benches of the Supreme Court outside Delhi,” Mr. Rijiju said.