Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Introductory meet of panel on simultaneous polls today

The introductory meeting of the high-level committee under former president Ram Nath Kovind for simultaneous elections will be held here on Saturday to discuss the roadmap and how to go about holding consultation with stakeholders.

Kovind had recently told reporters in Odisha that the meeting will be held on September 23.
The government had on September 2 notified the eight-member “high-level” panel to examine and make recommendations at the earliest on the issue of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies, municipalities and panchayats. People aware of the details said the meeting will be “introductory” in nature and members will discuss the roadmap on how to go about the mandate given to the panel.

The panel, they said, will also discuss on how to go about holding consultations with stakeholders, research on the subject and preparation of working papers. Home Minister Amit Shah, former leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and former finance commission chairman N K Singh are among the committee’s members.

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Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was also a member. However, in a letter to Home Minister Shah, he declined to be part of the panel.
“I have no hesitation whatsoever in declining to serve on the committee whose terms of reference have been prepared in a manner to guarantee its conclusions. It is, I am afraid, a total eyewash,” Chowdhury had said in the letter.

The government notification said the panel will commence functioning immediately and make recommendations “at the earliest”, but did not specify a time-frame to submit the report.
The decision to have a committee under former president Kovind had caught opposition bloc INDIA, holding their conclave in Mumbai on September 1, by surprise and further raised the political heat.
The opposition alliance had slammed the decision as a “threat” to the country’s federal structure.

The high-level committee will also have former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap, senior advocate Harish Salve and former chief vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari as members.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will attend the meetings of the committee as a special invitee, while Law Secretary Niten Chandra will be the secretary to the panel.

The committee will examine and recommend specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act and any other laws and rules which would require amendments for the purpose of holding simultaneous elections.

It has also been tasked to suggest a framework for synchronisation of elections and “specifically suggest the phases and time-frame within which simultaneous elections may be held if they cannot be held in one go…”.
It will also examine and recommend if the amendments to the Constitution would require ratification by states.



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