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Law Panel Fails to Cross Hung Parliament, Constitutional Amendments Hurdle to Simultaneous Polls Finish Line

The stalemate over simultaneous polls report comes soon after the law panel refrained from submitting a report on Uniform Civil Code after the sixth schedule of the Constitution had proven to be a roadblock.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:August 30, 2018, 5:57 PM IST
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Law Panel Fails to Cross Hung Parliament, Constitutional Amendments Hurdle to Simultaneous Polls Finish Line
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New Delhi: The Law Commission of India in a meeting on Thursday decided to submit only its draft report on simultaneous polls as the final report needs more deliberation and research.

The term of the 21st law panel, headed by Justice (Retd) Balbir Singh Chauhan, will come to an end Friday, so the next commission would have to look into the thorny issue that has the BJP and the Opposition warring against each other.

According to officials, constitutional provisions that would require amendments to pave the way for simultaneous polls and how to resolve the issue of a hung parliament were the two major were the two major hurdles the commission encountered in preparing its final report.

“This report will remain as a draft report and the next commission will look into it. The final report cannot be presented till August 31," said a senior member of the commission.

A full commission meeting had been called on Thursday and it was attended by all the part time and full time members, barring one. Other members present were the law Secretary and member of the legislative wing.

A member of the commission, on condition of anonymity, told News18 that the panel could not arrive on a consensus on what should be the remedy in case of a hung parliament in light of the 10th schedule of the constitution.

Another point of deliberation was that "one nation one poll is not possible without constitutional amendments."

The panel had released a white paper on joint polls in April this year, where it had laid down how simultaneous polls could be held.

Citing no-confidence motion and premature dissolution of the House as major roadblocks, it had suggested that the parties that introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.

It even suggested the relaxation of the “rigours” of the anti-defection law to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly.

The panel had suggested that in case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years.

The draft recommended amendment of Article 83, which deals with duration of both Houses, and Article 172, which is related to the duration of state legislatures.

“Article 83 and 172 of the Constitution along with sections 14 and 15 of the 1951 Act, appropriately amended to incorporate the provision regarding the remainder of the term – that is, post mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha and/or Assembly so constituted shall be only for the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha or Assembly and not for a fresh term of five years,” it stated.

The stalemate over simultaneous polls report comes soon after the law panel refrained from submitting a report on Uniform Civil Code after the sixth schedule of the Constitution had proven to be a roadblock.

According to sources, the commission believes that “even if any future Chairman of the law commission decides to propose a uniform civil code, they would still have to deal with the hurdle of the sixth schedule.”

“The commission has to work within the framework of the Constitution and cannot transgress it. But we cannot propose a UCC now as there is no more time with the Commission,” said a source.

The law ministry, in July 2016, had asked the Law Commission to determine if UCC was possible in India.

Apart from Joint polls, the other item on agenda was the report on wrongful prosecution.

On December 2017, the Delhi High Court had asked Law Commission of India to examine the possibility of a legislation for providing relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration in India.
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