‘Major parties favour simultaneous parliamentary, assembly polls’

Chennai, June 23 (IANS) National and regional political parties seem to agree on holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, said E.M. Sudarasana Natchiappan, who chairs parliament’s Standing Committee on personnel, public Grievances, and law and justice.

“National political parties and also regional parties, including those in Tamil Nadu, seem to be agreeable for having simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies. But they also wonder whether such a thing is feasible,” Natchiappan told reporters here on Tuesday.

He said based on the feedback given by the national political parties, it seems parties are largely agreeable for the simultaneous poll proposal, but the committee would hold a wider consultation with intelligentsia, smaller political parties and other stakeholders to get their views.

He also clarified that simultaneous polls are “certainly not the first step towards a presidential form of government in India”.

The parliamentary committee met leaders of political parties and other organisations to elicit views on issues like the simultaneous polls; setting up commercial courts to hear disputes involving monetary value of Rs.1 crore and above; and changes proposed in the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta laws.

According to Natchiappan, the Election Commission has said that holding simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and assemblies will reduce the poll cost drastically.

He noted that due to elections, the government’s work comes to a standstill for three months.

Noting simultaneous polls were held in the country after Independence, Natchiappan said the anti-defection law, restrictions on imposition of President’s rule in the states, and the experience of running coalition governments have created a situation conducive for political parties to run their governments for a full term.

The parliamentary committee met political parties in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu and would visit other states in the coming days.

Natchiappan said it may take several years for the idea to be implemented and would require amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act.

“We plan to give our report on the subject by this November,” he said.

Speaking about the commercial courts to hear business disputes involving values of Rs.1 crore or more, Natchiappan said the proposal is to have separate courts at districts as well as a two-member bench in high courts.

One of the views expressed on the proposal is that the litigants should meet the cost involved for fast tracking the cases.

Queried about the need for such courts when filling up the vacancies of the judiciary would enable clearing the backlog, he said such a view was also expressed.

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