New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today took forward the suggestion of the President and the Prime Minister for simultaneous polls for Parliament and state assemblies and asked the legal fraternity to ponder over it. Also Read - There Should be Some Screening: Supreme Court Seeks OTT Regulations From Centre
Prasad, while speaking at a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on the occasion of launch of its monthly journal ‘SCBA Times’, posed whether this journal could provoke a national debate on whether simultaneous elections should be held in the country. Also Read - Dissent Cannot be Termed Seditious, Says Supreme Court; Junks Plea Against Farooq Abdullah
President Ram Nath Kovind, in his address to Parliament yesterday, had pitched for simultaneous elections to Parliament and state assemblies, saying frequent polls imposed a “huge burden” on resources and impeded the development process. Also Read - Is it Safe for 14-year-old to Terminate 26-week Pregnancy? SC asks Haryana Hospital
The journal was launched by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra in the presence of several other apex court judges, including Justices M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph, U U Lalit, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is the president of SCBA, was also present at the function.
Prasad said every year, there were several elections in the country and every poll entailed a heavy expenditure.
“Can your journal provoke a debate in the country, purely as a constitutional issue, should we have simultaneous elections in the entire country? I do not wish to make any political comment but just now we had two state elections — Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh,” he said during the function.
“Every year there are 6-7 elections and I am not talking about the municipal elections. Every election entails heavy expenditure. Plus model code of conduct comes, then there is a problem of not taking any action. So much security personnel are involved in ensuring free and fair elections. I think your platform in a way can consider having a debate,” he said.
The union minister also referred to the upcoming polls and said “in one and a half months, we are going to have elections in Tripura and also in Meghalaya. Thereafter, we are going to have election in Karnataka. After two months, we are going to have elections of Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh”.
He, however, did not mention the upcoming assembly elections in Nagaland, scheduled on February 27.
Representatives of 11 political parties, including the ruling Naga People’s Front and the Congress had yesterday signed a declaration not to contest these polls by agreeing to the demand of tribal bodies and civil society groups that the protracted Naga political problem be resolved first.
Speaking on the occasion, CJI Misra hailed the journal saying it “carries recognition and recollection”.
He said the journal was focussed on the basic aspect of every individual, like health camp which was recently organised in the apex court, and also lays stress on diversified ideas.
The CJI referred to the obituary section of the journal, which contained the names of former CJI A S Anand, former apex court judge Justice V Khalid, noted jurists Anil B Divan and P P Rao, and said “these are not mere obituaries. These are recollection. Recollection in respect. Parting soul shall be given respect”.
The SCBA president termed the launch of the journal as “historic” and said it would take up social and cultural issues of lawyers, as also national issues.
He said the SCBA was of the view that it can play a major role for progress of the nation and the lawyers’ body had a huge responsibility.
Addressing the gathering, Prasad said the launch of the journal gave him personal satisfaction since he happened to be a member of the SCBA earlier. He said the glorious history of the Supreme Court should be told to the people.
He said the people had immense respect for the judiciary and the Supreme Court and suggested that the journal should convey in a limited way the history and heritage of the institution and the legacy of outstanding jurists.
He, however, told the SCBA president that it was easy to start a journal but difficult to continue.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.