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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).