The committee on One nation one election, apart from former President Ram Nath Kovind, who is Chairman, comprises Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress leader Ahir Ranjan Chowdhury, former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Finance Commission Chairman NK Singh, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap, Senior Advocate Harish Salve and former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari.
According to a notification by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the terms and reference of the high-level panel shall be to examine and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections to the House of the People (Lok Sabha), State Legislative Assemblies, Municipalities and Panchayats, keeping in view the existing framework under the Constitution of India and other statutory provisions, and for that purpose, examine and recommend specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act, 1950, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the rules made thereunder and any other law or rules which would require amendments for the purpose of holding simultaneous elections; examine and recommend, if the amendments to the Constitution would require ratification by the States; analyse and recommend possible solution in a scenario of simultaneous elections emerging out of hung House, adoption of no-confidence motion, or defection or any such other event.
Suggest a framework for synchronisation of elections and specifically, suggest the phases and time frame within which simultaneous elections may be held if they cannot be held in one go and also suggest any amendments to the Constitution and other laws in this regard and propose such rules that may be required in such circumstances; recommend necessary safeguards for ensuring the continuity of the cycle of simultaneous elections and recommend necessary amendments to the Constitution, so that the cycle of simultaneous elections is not disturbed; examine the logistics and manpower required, including EVMs, VVPATs, etc., for holding such simultaneous elections; examine and recommend the modalities of use of a single electoral roll and electoral identity cards for identification of voters in elections to the House of the People (Lok Sabha), State Legislative Assemblies, Municipalities and Panchayats, the notification added.
According to the Centre, the HLC shall commence functioning immediately and make recommendations at the earliest. A government notification said that Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will attend the meetings of the High-Level Committee as a special invitee. Meanwhile, the Leader of the single largest party in opposition in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is included in the committee has declined to serve on the panel, saying its “terms of reference have been prepared in a manner to guarantee its conclusions”.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chowdhury said, “I have just got to know through the media and a Gazette notification has appeared that I have been appointed as a Member of the High-Level Committee on simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabhas. I have no hesitation whatsoever in declining to serve on the Committee whose terms of reference have been prepared in a manner to guarantee its conclusions. It is, I am afraid, a total eyewash.”
The committee has been set up months before assembly polls in five states and ahead of Lok Sabha polls next year. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had informed about the constitution of the committee on Friday.
“Right now, a committee has been constituted. A report from the committee will come out which will be discussed. The Parliament is mature, and discussions will take place, there is no need to get nervous. India is called the mother of democracy, there is always an evolution. I will discuss the agenda of the Special session of Parliament,” he said.
Simultaneous elections for the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha were held till 1967. However, in 1968 and 1969 some legislative assemblies were dissolved prematurely followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 1970. This forced a change in electoral schedules for the states and the country.