Chennai. The Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu today firmly opposed the idea of simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state Legislature, terming the Law Commission’s proposal “a complete misadventure that will decimate the federal structure.”
DMK Working President MK Stalin said an earlier Law Commission during the tenure of AB Vajpayee as Prime Minister in 1999 reported on the issue exhaustively.
“Where Parliament is sceptical whether this idea can be ever implemented this redundant exercise of producing a duplicative report that has no chances of being legislated appears questionable and if I may say, useless, both from legal and political standpoint,” Stalin said.
“On the contrary, there is a danger of diminishing the Law Commission’s credibility,” he said in his representation submitted before Law Commission Chairman, Justice B S Chauhan, in Delhi today, through DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchy Siva.
The DMK was of “the firm opinion that the proposed call for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislatures goes against the basic tenets of our Constitution and established principles of democratic functioning,” he said.
Referring to the Law Commission’s Working Paper dated April 17, 2018 on this subject, Stalin sought to point out various ‘discrepancies.’
“State Legislatures have a distinct constitutional identity and derive their powers from Chapter III of the Constitution. Though Parliament is empowered to amend the Constitution – in accordance with Article 368 – there are basic features of the Constitution which cannot be abrogated,” he said.
Federalism was one such basic feature and this has been repeatedly held by the Supreme Court in cases, he added.
“Any proposal to amend these fundamental tenets in turn threatens to tear apart the fabric holding the nation together,” Stalin, Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly, said.
On countries with simultaneous polls being cited as examples in this case, such as Sweden, Belgium and South Africa, Stalin said the population of Tamil Nadu alone outnumbered the combined population of the three countries.
Any comparison of these countries with India in terms of population “is logically fallacious, completely misleading and unhelpful to the present discourse,” he added.
Further, the powers to dissolve the Legislature were vested with the Governor and the President under relevant articles of the Constitution, and these powers have been “circumscribed” by a seven-judge bench of the apex court in 1977.
“Any alteration of these powers by the Union Government or Election Commission of India may run the risk of altering the basic structure of the Constitution and directly impinging on its federal character,” he said.
On ‘dilution’ of anti-defection laws, he said it would promote horse-trading “and no justification can ever be advanced to abet defection among elected representatives.”
Referring to the possibility of synchronising Assembly polls with 2019 and 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the DMK leader said the panel’s Working Paper did not seem to have considered that Lok Sabha is also capable of being dissolved before its five-year tenure.
“If such a situation were to happen, it is unclear whether all Legislative Assemblies will also be dissolved to synchronise electoral process again,” he said.
He also questioned the reasoning of “massive expenditure” behind mooting the idea of simultaneous polls, saying the entire cost of holding the 2014 general elections was only Rs 3,870 crore or roughly Rs 45 per elector. “It is not clear how this can be considered huge or massive,” he said.
“In sum, the present proposal of the Law Commission of India seems to be a complete misadventure that will decimate the federal structure. I respectfully submit my party’s wholehearted opposition to the proposal of ‘One India One Elections’,” he added.