The case of the missing election in J
and K (Indian Express)
Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Article 324(2)
Mains level: Election procedure
- On December 28, 2018, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh
confidently told the Lok Sabha that the government was prepared for an
election in Jammu and Kashmir any time.
- As Home Minister he knew the security situation in the State.
- He explicitly added that if the Election Commission decided to
hold the elections, the Home Ministry would provide the security requisite
for the conduct of a free and fair poll.
- From December 20, President’s rule was imposed in the State with
dubious constitutional validity.
- When the Rajya Sabha debated its ratification on January 3, Mr.
Singh repeated his assurance in these unqualified terms: “We are willing to
provide whatever security force Election Commission wants for holding
- Responding to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s question on why
elections were not held after the BJP pulled out of the State government,
Mr. Singh said, “If the Election Commission wants, our government will have
Implication of assurances
- The implication of both assurances in identically explicit terms
to each House of Parliament on separate occasions was clear.
- Mr. Singh was cognisant of the security situation and was
confident that a simultaneous poll was possible. But on March 10, Chief
Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced that while Assembly polls will
be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim, they would not be held likewise in Jammu and
- He asserted, ahead of the reactions in Kashmir, that “the Election
Commission will not capitulate to anyone”.
- The feeble reasons he gave, despite the Home Minister’s
assurances, confirm the impression of a ‘fixed matter’.
- He argued, “The Election Commission recently visited Jammu and
Kashmir, met political parties and government officials.
- Due to constraints in the number of security forces and recent
violent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, there will be no Assembly elections
in the State.”
- There are three obvious flaws in this laboured defence. The Union
Home Minister is better informed of the political and security situation in
Jammu and Kashmir than the Election Commission can be after its brief visit.
- He has inputs from the Central and State intelligence besides
- He was surely well aware of the “constraints in the number of
security forces” when he repeatedly offered his categorical assurances.
- And when was Kashmir free from “violent incidents” ever since
1996, when elections began to be held after the outbreak of militancy there
Suggestions and amendments
- In 1974, a Committee on Electoral Reforms, appointed by
Jayaprakash Narayan, suggested that the members of the Election Commission
should be appointed by the President on the advice of a committee consisting
of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition (or a Member of
Parliament elected by the Opposition) in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief
Justice of India.
- In May 1990, an All-Party Committee on Electoral Reforms
recommended consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of
- This was modified in the Constitution (70th Amendment) Bill which
the then Union Law Minister, Dinesh Goswami, who had chaired the Committee,
moved in the Rajya Sabha on May 30, 1990.
- Article 324(2) was to be amended to enjoin consultation with the
presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament and the Leader of the
Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
- The Chief Justice of India was dropped from this panel.
- In appointing the other Election Commissioners, the Chief Election
Commissioner was also to be consulted.
- The Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. Consultation
with the two political figures who preside over the House of Parliament is
surely a far weaker check than one with the Chief Justice of India.
Instances of partisanship
- On October 23, 2018, the Supreme Court referred to a five-judge
Bench a PIL seeking a collegium-like system for the selection of the Chief
Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners.
- It was opposed by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal contending that
persons of unblemished virtue had held the post of Chief Election
- Successive Chief Election Commissioners have been criticised for
partisanship. S.P. Sen Verma’s report on the Fifth General Elections in
India 1971-72 contains blatantly political remarks reflective of a clear
bias in favour of the Congress.
- The CPI(M) held him responsible for rigging the elections to the
West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
- Jayaprakash Narayan thought of appointing a non-official inquiry
committee. S.L. Shakdher was rightly criticised for delaying by-elections
- R.K. Trivedi was criticised for adopting double standards in
holding elections in Assam despite the clear certainty that a free and fair
poll was simply not possible in the State.
- On Kashmir he rejected the State government’s views on the dates
for spurious reasons.
- Who held those rigged polls in Jammu and Kashmir but the Chief
- T.N. Seshan changed the trend. He and his successors like J.M.
Lyngdoh won public confidence.
- Mr. Arora’s appointment as Chief Election Commissioner raised
- Recently, laws setting up institutions like the Lokpal invariably
prescribe a wide consultative mechanism.
- The time has come to fill the lacuna which Dr. Ambedkar himself
pointed out. It brooks no delay.
Q1. Consider the following statements.
Assertion (A): Real interest rates have turned negative
many times in India.
Reason (R): High inflation has been registered in many
In the context of the above, which of these is correct?
a) A is correct, and R is an appropriate explanation of A.
b) A is correct, but R is not an appropriate explanation of A.
c) A is incorrect, but R is correct.
d) Both A and R are incorrect.
Q1. Discuss the pros and cons for conducting simultaneous election.