The submissions came during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to ECI to ascertain the feasibility of conducting elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies simultaneously in order to save money and manpower. Advocate Sidhant Kumar counsel for the ECI submitted that it is for the Parliament to look into the matter and submitted that it is for the Parliament to consider amendments to the Constitution and the RPI for simultaneous elections to be conducted in the country.
Advocate Sidhant Kumar also objected to the petitioner's prayer seeking direction to ECI to ascertain the feasibility of conducting elections on Saturday, Sunday and holidays and said, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has already held that the schedule of elections is the sole discretion of the ECI.
After taking note of the submissions, the Delhi High Court today asked the Election Commission (EC) to look into the representation made by a petitioner.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad today said, "We know our limitation, the prayer sought in the petition completely falls under the Election Commission domain. We are not lawmakers."
The petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader stated before the court that there are many advantages to holding the Lok Sabha, Assembly, Panchayat and Municipal elections together.
It would reduce the time and cost involved in conducting elections in terms of using paramilitary forces, government staff on election duty and the Election Commission staff organising booths, electronic voting machines and voter slips etc, Upadhyay said.
The plea further sought the court to direct the Centre and the EC to ascertain the feasibility of conducting elections on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in order to save valuable time for the schools, colleges, universities, service industries and manufacturing organisations.
The petitioner has also sought the issuance of direction to the Centre and the EC to take apposite steps to implement the recommendations proposed by the Law Commission of India in its Report No-170, which stated, "We must go back to the situation where the elections to Lok Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies are held at once."
The decision to conduct all elections together would save money as the cost of campaigning for parties would be less, the plea said.
The imposition of the Model Code of Conduct delays the implementation of central and state government projects and welfare schemes and takes away time and effort from governance issues, it stated further.
The need for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha, Assemblies, panchayats and Municipal bodies has been discussed and debated for a long time, added the plea.
"As elections have become a big budget affair and expensive, the Law Commission of India in its 170th Report on Reform of Electoral Laws (1999) has suggested simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for the sake of stability in governance. But the Centre and ECI did not take appropriate steps," the plea read.
The plea suggested that the elections to Assemblies, whose terms would expire in 2023 and 2024, be bunched up together along with 2024 Lok Sabha elections by curtailing or extending the tenures.
If consensus is arrived at among political parties, the Assembly elections in 16 states Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand -- can be held along with the 2024 General elections, the plea proposed.
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