The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to pass directions concerning a PIL filed seeking direction to the Central government and the Election Commission (EC) to determine if it is feasible to hold the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections at the same time in 2024.
A division bench of Chief Justice (CJ) Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, who was dealing with the petition, said that the PIL seeks framing of a law which is the EC’s and not their (the court’s) domain.
CJ Sharma said: “We are not lawmakers, we know our limitations. We ensure compliance of law. We can’t issue such mandamus.”
In his PIL, petitioner and advocate Ashwini K. Upadhyay sought a direction to both the Centre and the EC to conduct elections on holidays, including Saturdays and Sundays, in order to save valuable time of schools, colleges, universities, service industries and manufacturing organisations.
The court also refused to pass any directions on the above saying that even this falls under the EC’s domain.
Representing EC, advocate Sidhant Kumar told the court that it is for the Parliament to consider amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of People’s Act if simultaneous elections were to be conducted in the country.
As Upadhyay said that the plea be treated as representation, the bench disposed of the matter while directing the EC to consider the representation in accordance with the law.
Upadhyay, in his plea, submitted that it is crucial to hold the elections concurrently in order to save public money, lessen the load on the security forces and public administration on election duty, and EC staff who have to organise booths, electronic voting machines and voter slips.
The plea stated: “As elections have become a big budget affair and expensive, the Law Commission, in its 170th Report on Reform of Electoral Laws (1999) has suggested simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, for the sake of stability in governance. But the Centre and the EC did not take appropriate steps.”
Upadhyay had asked for the Law Commission’s recommendations to be implemented.
The plea also added that the elections to Assemblies whose terms are expiring in 2023 and 2024 may be brought together with 2024 Lok Sabha election by curtailing or extending their term.
“If consensus evolves among political parties; Assembly elections of 16 states i.e. Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand can be held with 2024 general election,” it said.
The plea also added that since the majority of the states are ruled by the National Democratic Alliance government, the consensus would emerge without much difficulty, adding that it will result in simultaneous Assembly polls of 16 states with general elections in 2024.
It also said that once the elections are held together and the election process is over, the 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 added.