In its report on ‘One Nation One Election’, the Ram Nath Kovind-led panel recommended a two-step approach to achieving simultaneous elections in the country. To begin with, simultaneous polls should be held for the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

In the follow-up step, the panel suggested in a report submitted to President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday morning that elections to the Municipalities and the Panchayats can be held within hundred days of polls to the Lower House and assemblies.

Other members of the high-level committee, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister of State for Law and Justice Arjun Ram Meghwal and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad, were also present at the time of submitting a report to Murmu, her office said on social media X.

For ease of organising the festival of democracy, the Committee also suggested a single electoral roll and Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) for use in elections to all the three tiers of government, the Ministry of Law and Justice said in an official statement after the panel handed over the report to President.

Currently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is responsible for general and assembly elections, while state election commissions conduct polls for municipalities and panchayats.

In the event of a hung house, the panel suggested, a no-confidence motion constitutes the new House, and fresh polls may be held for the remainder of the five-year term.

For states witnessing fresh elections, new legislative assemblies unless dissolved sooner, shall continue till the end of the term of the Lok Sabha, the committee reported.

Constitutional Amendment

To bring one nation one poll would require constitution of Article 83 (Duration of Houses of Parliament) and Article 172 (Duration of State Legislatures). A Constitutional Amendment will have to be brought into parliament to give effect to these changes but it would not require ratification by the states, the report said.

“In tune with its mandate to explore the mechanism for simultaneous elections, and keeping in view the existing framework of the Constitution, the Committee has crafted its recommendations in such a way that they are in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of India and would require bare minimum amendments to the Constitution,” the Ministry’s statement read.

After extensive deliberations, the Committee said its recommendations will significantly enhance transparency, inclusivity, ease and confidence of the voters. If the nation decides to support holding simultaneous elections, the Ministry stated it will spur development process and social cohesion, deepen the foundations of our democratic rubric, and realize the aspirations of India.

According to the Ministry, the report, which is 18,626 pages long, is the outcome of extensive consultations with stakeholders and experts and research work that has lasted 191 days since it was constituted on 2 September 2023.

Stakeholder Consultations

To give a sense of the consultations it had, the panel stated that 47 political parties submitted their views and suggestions, out of which 32 supported simultaneous elections. Similarly, of the 21,558 responses received from citizens nationwide, 80 per cent supported simultaneous polls.

Former Chief Justices of India and 12 former Chief Justices of major High Courts, four former Chief Election Commissioners of India, eight State Election Commissioners, and the Chairman of the Law Commission of India were invited by the Committee to hear their views in person. The Election Commission of India’s response was also sought. And so were apex business organizations like the CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and eminent economists for presenting their views on the economic repercussions of asynchronous elections.

The Panel stated that corporate bodies advocated the economic imperative of simultaneous elections because asynchronous elections would fuel inflation and slow down the economy.

The Committee said in their suggestions these bodies stated that intermittent elections weighed down economic growth, quality of public expenditure, and educational and other outcomes, besides upsetting social harmony.