NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Election Commission to consider the representation by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay for direction to examine the feasibility of conducting elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies simultaneously in order to save money and manpower.
A bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said the plea fell under the domain of the Election Commission.
"We know our limitations. We are not lawmakers," the bench said, and asked the Election Commission to decide the representation made by Upadhyay.
Advocate Sidhant Kumar opposed the plea on behalf of the EC, saying that it is the Parliament, which is to look into and decide the matter.
Upadhyay, however, said 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.
He also said conducting elections on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays would 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."
He also pointed out the Model Code of Conduct before the polls delayed the implementation of central and state government projects and welfare schemes and took away time and effort from governance issues.
The need for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha, Assemblies, panchayats and Municipal bodies has been discussed and debated for a long time, the plea said.
"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 said.
The plea suggested that the elections to Assemblies, whose terms would expire in 2023 and 2024, be bunched up together along with the 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 said.
In 48 countries, elections are always held on Sunday to enable maximum voters to participate.
"Apart from the saving of huge money and manpower, the biggest benefit will be the reduction in electoral paralysis/lack of decision making by Centre and State because Election is due every year. This becomes even more problematic where Prime Minister and Chief Minister is the Star campaigner for the party in elections as well and the hectic campaign distracts from running the government. Once the elections are held together and the mammoth election process is over, government will get a clear 58 months to carry out important reforms since this is a large enough window for their results to be visible, it will make life easier for the political class," the plea said.