Niti Aayog Recommends Fixed Tenures For Lok Sabha India News
The Niti Aayog has advocated “fixed tenures” for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies to “sustain the electoral cycle” if simultaneous elections have to be held across the country.
In a report, exclusively accessed by ET, the government think tank suggested legislation to fix the term of the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies at five years to avoid midterm elections.
The Aayog has cited an Act framed by the UK to underline its point. The UK enacted the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, 2011, mandating completion of a term of Parliament before general elections are held.
The development assumes significance since the Aayog, last year, had found little force in proposing a fixed tenure. In a discussion paper then, it had said “fixed term is not proposed”.
Instead, it suggested tweaking the recommendations of the Election Commission of India.
In its final report, however, the Aayog has recommended fixed term.
It said the current system in India could never guarantee a five-year tenure of a government or the house.
“Owing to the fact that the Constitution of India does not provide for a fixed term for the Lok Sabha or the state legislative assemblies, even if we start with a clean slate and have all elections together, the problem of multiple elections will crop up again in time,” reads the Niti Aayog report.
“Once simultaneous elections are started, what happens in case by-elections are necessitated in between terms? What happens in case the ruling party or coalition loses majority…,” the report asked.
It suggested the solution as well: a law providing for a fixed term for legislature and provisions for constructive vote of no confidence.
The Aayog suggested that the term of the Lok Sabha commence on the first Monday in June in the fifth calendar year following that in which the term of the previous Lok Sabha commenced — starting June 3, 2019.
Elections to the Lok Sabha, it adds, should be held in April-May of the fifth year after the commencement of the previous Lok Sabha, starting with April-May 2019.
Dividing states and union territories into two groups for holding simultaneous elections, the Aayog recommended that the term of 14 states in the first group commence in April-May 2019.
For the remaining 17, it can be from October-November 2021. This is in sync with the Aayog’s stated stand that simultaneous elections should be ushered in by synchronizing the election cycle in two phases.
The formula for fixed tenures, the report reads, can be implemented by effecting “suitable amendments in the Constitution of India and the applicable statutory framework”.
The effect of giving a fixed term is to ensure stability of governments and avoid by-polls to the “extent possible”. Adding a word of caution, the report says the idea of fixed tenure may “not end the possibility of a byelection altogether”.
To tackle such eventuality, it reiterated to adopt a “constructive vote of no confidence” along the lines of Germany.