Skip to main content

Simultaneous Parliament and State Assembly elections are not possible, are against federalism

Rajindar Sachar*
Prime Minister Modi has for last six months kept a continuous refrain for holding simultaneously Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls and the supposed advantages that would flow from it. As was to be expected number of newspapers and persons are picking up this matter.

It is unfortunate that Election Commission of India and Niti Aayog should have gone along with this suggestion without even the minimum constitutional requirement of a public debate and seminars – and more unforgivably without discussions of the matter with other major political parties and the State governments. In order to have a worthwhile debate, it is necessary to know the legal and factual situation at present.
The present life of Lok Sabha expires in May 2019.   Modis repeated emphasis on simultaneous poll is actuated by the realization that the mood of exhilaration that he was able to create in 2014 Parliamentary poll is diminishing very fast. The background situation from 2004 – 2014 of UPA regime had exposed so much scandals both financial and administrative that people were sick of goody but not visible prime Minister Manmohan Singh because of the domination of Indira Gandhi family.
The exposure by the Supreme Court of telecom and Coal scandals had made BJP task easier. By itself BJP under leadership of other than Modi (helpd fully by RSS) may not have done that well. But Modi had created an illusion of strong and honest government in Gujarat that people were willing to ignore or even forget one of the worst period under Modi, namely the state supported mass slaughter of Muslims in 2001.
Such was the communal passion aroused by RSS that country which was already disgusted with the corruption and inefficiency of UPA government and also heightened by the split amongst the various political parties that Modi romped home with overwhelming majority of seat in Lok Sabha but with just 31% of votes – of course greatly helped and boosted by corporate funding.
That illusion has now been exposed. Even ardent supporters of Modi now do not place hundred percent bet on Modi winning Lok Sabha polls in 2019 - that is why the effort of Modi to work out a strategy so as to keep his rivals also caught up with State Assembly polls so as not to put combined pressure on him in Lok Sabha Polls.
But this strategy of Modi is not constitutionally possible. After Emergency, Constitution (44th Amendment) has provided in Article 83 and Article 172, of the Constitution that Lok Sabha and State Legislatures of the State shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer. Thus the factual situation at present will show that it is constitutionally not possible to hold simultaneous polls in May 2019.
This is because it would require to extend the term of Sates Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (by 5 months), Mizoram (by 6 months) and Karnataka (by 12 months) which is not constitutionally possible. Of course the terms of Haryana and Maharashtra (by 5 months), Jharkhand (by 7 month) excepting NCT f Delhi (by 8 months) could be curtailed as these states are BJP government, but Delhi would not agree.
Punjab, U.P. must go to polls in the next 2 months - obviously no one can expect Tamil Nadu, Bihar, J & K, West Bengal and Kerala all opposition parties to agree whose terms are upto 2021.  Assam can go to polls in 2019 though due in 2021 as they are BJP - will Modi agree to curtail its term where BJP has for the first time come to power.
Non-BJP states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, whose terms expires by 2021, will never agree to curtail their period terms. The Central government whose terms would expire by 2019 cannot continue thereafter without holding fresh elections due in May 2019.
If however Modi is so keen on holding simultaneous polls even with some States he can hold it along by dissolving Parliament in 2017 and then hold simultaneous polls by dissolving also at same time BJP Sate Assemblies whose terms are not yet over as mentioned above. If Modi is not willing why is he trying cover his government failure by conjuring up these illusory undemocratic solutions.
But a greater principle of democracy is involved in simultaneous polls of parliament and state assemblies unless by fortuitous circumstances the five year period of parliament and State Assemblies happen to coincide on its own. This contrived situation trying to be brought up by Modi has very dangerous implication and against the basic structure of our constitution which is impermissible. According to Supreme Court of India Article 1(1) India is a Union of States which means a federation of States.
Our constitution specifically provides exclusive list – I empowering the Central government which alone can legislate on certain subjects in list-I in Seventh Schedule. The States alone can legislate List - II  - Parliament can not. Both Centre and State can legislate in List - III. State List - II includes very important subjects like Agriculture, law and order ......on which only state can legislate and Centre has no jurisdiction. Obviously voters have different aspects, priorities when voting for State Assemblies or Parliament.
The Supreme Court of India (1951) specifically held: “The State legislature under our Constitution is not a delegate of the union parliament. Both legislatures derive powers from the same Constitution. Within its appointed sphere, the State Legislature has plenary powers”.
Modi wants to deny this strategic advantage of States and weaken decentralization which is the core of our constitutional jurisprudence.
Examples of other countries like USA and Europe would also show that it is constitutionally recognized that the priorities and interests of State in day to day governance are emphasized differently.
Thus in USA a rather extreme position prevails that law and Medical degrees of one state are not even recognized in the rest of States. As far elections they have different laws in each state. They have separate laws for poll for Presidents election and separate for Senate and House of representatives and also separate for various states. Of course this is an extreme example borne possibly of history of USA which had Civil War.
We wisely did not go so far. Also the distinction between the priorities of Centre and the states are different. The sooner Modi relinquishes this idea of simultaneous poll it is better. This gives unfair advantage to national parties as against state parties and distorts the sentiment of voters that government be close to the people of area concerned. 
---
*Former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, chaired Sachar Committee, which submitted a report on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims in India

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.