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Law panel to frame govt poll plan

Law panel to frame govt poll plan
NEW DELHI, AUG 28 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/28/2018 11:59:33 AM IST

Law Commission will this week recommend a tough legal framework, which includes changes in the Constitution and election law, to hold Lok Sabha and assembly polls together, highly placed sources on the panel said. The commission would recommend amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act (RPA) to ensure simultaneous polls, they said, adding that without these changes the mammoth exercise cannot be held.

The recommendations of the panel are not binding on the government, but the report will allow an informed debate among political parties and stakeholders. Simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and state Assemblies can be held in two phases beginning in 2019, provided at least two provisions of the Constitution are amended and ratified by majority of the states, a Law Commission study paper said in April. According to the working paper, the second phase of simultaneous polls can take place in 2024. The document stated that the leader of the majority party be elected prime minister or chief minister by the entire House (Lok Sabha or state Assembly) to ensure stability of the government as well as the Lok Sabha or the Assembly. The document proposed amending the Constitution (Articles 83(2) and 172(1) dealing with tenures of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies) and the Representation of the People Act to extend the terms of state legislative assemblies to effect the move. It suggested that in case a government fell mid-term, the term of the new government would be for the remaining period “and not for a fresh five-year term”.

NDA government may convene a special session of Parliament to move a constitutional amendment bill on simultaneous elections or do so in the coming winter session, a Telangana BJP leader claimed on Tuesday. Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao said there is a possibility of the government moving a constitutional amendment bill for the RPA in the winter session or convening a special session for the purpose. “BJP is for simultaneous elections; we are still pursuing and we have not given up on that,” Rao told PTI.

EC, Centre at loggerheads in SC: Election Commission and the Centre were at loggerheads in the Supreme Court Tuesday on the aspect of judicial intervention to ensure decriminalisation of politics.

While the poll panel exhorted a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to issue directions on issues such as disqualification of lawmakers even before conviction, the Centre, through Attorney General K K Venugopal, asked the court to keep off.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the poll panel, referred to the reports of the EC and the Law Commission on decriminalisation of politics and said these were out way back in 1998 and 1999 respectively, but no action was taken by the government. “It is very clear that political parties are fielding candidates with criminal antecedents and the court should pass directions,” the lawyer said, adding, “if Parliament is stonewalling this, then the court has to step in”. The poll panel, in its report, had referred to section 8 of the Representation of the People Act and said it dealt with disqualification of lawmakers on conviction for certain offences.

Arora exhorted the court to issue direction in the matter besides asking Parliament to make the suitable law. “We cannot comment on Parliament,” the bench said while reserving the verdict on the PILs filed by NGO ‘Public Interest Foundation’ and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay.

On the other hand, Venugopal opposed the observation of the bench that poll panel can be asked to direct political parties to ensure that tainted persons do not contest elections on their ticket and symbols.

He said judiciary should not venture into the legislative arena by creating a pre-condition which would adversely affect the right to contest of the candidates. “The intention of the Lordships is laudable. But the question is whether the court can do it. The answer is ‘no’,” he said.

He was responding to the suggestion of the bench that the persons, facing criminal charges, would be free to contest, but they cannot do so on party ticket using party’s election symbol.

The top court is dealing with the question whether a legislator facing criminal trial can be disqualified at the stage framing of charges in a case. 

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