Report No. 170
Analysis of views and conclusions regarding the List System
3.2.1. In this chapter we shall deal with the concept of list system in addition to the existing 'first-past-the post (FPP) system' which was proposed in our working paper. The reasons for introducing this system have been set out in chapter three of part one of this report as well as in the working paper. In the seminars conducted by the Law Commission and in the responses received pursuant to the circulation of working paper, various views have been expressed which we shall discuss hereinbelow.
3.2.2. Shri S. Jaipal Reddy who presided over the second session of the National Seminar on 23rd January 1999 opposed the introduction of list system altogether while conceding that the list system is certainly more representative. He opined that that alone should not be the objective of the elections. According to him, the list system was likely to lead to proliferation of political parties. In a society which is indeed a "society of minorities", this system, he said, would not promote the national interest. He also pointed out that in the list system, the umbilical cord between the constituency and the candidate is absent.
He pointed out that list system was preferred in countries with homogenous societies and was not suited to a country like India whose society was the most heterogenous in the world, divided as it was on the grounds of religion, caste, language, region, race and so on. Even if the list system was introduced, he said, it should not be confirmed to recognised political parties as suggested by the Law Commission. He gave the example of Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh, which was formed just about nine months before the elections to the Legislative Assembly in Andhra Pradesh and yet swept the polls in 1983.
He suggested that all the registered political parties should be allowed top participate in the election held on the basis of list system. Mr. Jaipal Reddy also pointed out several merits of the existing FPP system. According to him, the FPP system had the merit of reducing the number of political parties. The present proliferation of political parties in this country is taking place in spite of the FPP system, he said. According to him, the FPP system led to stability by eliminating smaller parties.
According to him, there must necessarily be an intimate connection between the candidate and the constituency. Mr. Jaipal Reddy also pointed out that there should be a rule that for obtaining any seat under the list system, a political party must obtain certain prescribed minimum percentage of votes and in this connection, referred to the position obtaining in Greece and German.- particularly in the latter country. Unless a political party got a particular specified percentage of votes in the parliamentary or assembly elections, it should not get any seats, he suggested. He commended such a rule to be adopted in case the list system was to be adopted.
188.8.131.52. The views of Mr. Jaipal Reddy were supported by Shri D.V. Subba Rao, Member, Bar Council of India and Shri Margabandhu, MP and Chairman, Tamil Nadu Bar Council. Mr. Margabandhu opined that such a system would benefit the money bags and would be unable to reflect regional interests and aspirations. Views to the same effect were expressed by Shri Kapil Sibal, MP (Congress-I) at the seminar held on 14th November 1998. Shri Ram Jethmalani, the Hon'ble Minister for Urban Development, purporting to express his personal views, opposed the list system.
He said that Rajya Sabha is already there to serve the purpose behind the list system. He further opined that introduction of list system would give rise to two classes of MP.- one elected directly and the other elected according to list system. He referred to Lord Jenkin's report published some time in October-November in U.K. (reference to this report was also made by Dr. S.C. Jain, Member Secretary of Law Commission in his initial remarks at the seminar held on 14th November, 1998) which recommended alternative vote plus system. He suggested that the existing FPP system could be replaced by a single transferable vote. List system, he said, would help in entrenching coalitions.
3.2.3. Shri Jana Krishnamurthy, Vice President of the BJP opined in the seminar held on 14th November, 1998 that there was a danger of the list system encouraging casteist and communal tendencies and is likely to promote caste-based and relation based political parties. He pointed out that introduction of such a system would lead to several small parties putting up their candidates in several constituencies with the hope that the totality of the votes polled by them would yield some seats under the List system, which they would not have got under the FPP system.
3.2.4. On the other hand, several political parties, individuals and organisations supported the list system. In particular, the two Communist parties, the DMK and the Shiromani Akali Dal supported the introduction of the list system wholeheartedly. Indeed, it was suggested by Shri Sitaram Yechury (representing the CPM), Shri T.R. Balu (representing the DMK) and Shri Manjeet Singh Khera (representing Shiromani Akali Dal) that the number of seats to be filed according to list system should be raised to 50% of the existing strength of Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies, instead of restricting it to 25% as suggested by the Law Commission.
Shri M.S. Khera opined that the apprehension that the list system would encourage casteist tendencies was misplaced. List system was also strongly supported by Shri H.K. Dua, senior journalist who too wanted the strength of members to be elected on this basis raised to 50%. According to him, the Law Commission's proposal was a definite improvement over the existing electoral scene. Shri A.B. Bardhan (CPI) strongly commended the list system.
According to him it was overdue. He said that prominent campaigners for the political parties were usually tied up in campaigns for their parties all over the country and could not devote adequate attention to their particular constituency. The list system would help such persons to become members of Lok Sabha/State Legislature. He pointed out that such a system was working quite well in Germany and Japan. He sought to allay the apprehension that criminals and money bags were likely to get into Parliament/Legislatures through this method. Shri Rajinder Sachhar, senior advocate and former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court supported the list system but he did not agree with the concept of territorial units.
He suggested that list system should be implemented on all-India basis. Shri Inderjit, senior journalist, Shri N. Ram, senior journalist and Editor, Frontline, Shri C.R. Irani, Editor, The Statesman and Shri V.K. Samayak, President, 'Voters Forum Foundation of India', New Delhi, and Shri S. Sahay, senior journalist not only supported the list suystem but wanted it to be raised to 50% of the existing strength instead of the suggested 25%. Another senior advocate, Shri Jitendra Sharma supported the idea but suggested that it should be operated on all-India basis. This, he said, was necessary to curb casteism and communalism.
3.2.5. In connection with the carving of territorial units, one of the participants Shri Shivaramakrishnan pointed out that if the latest census was made the basis, then the southern States, in particular Kerala, would be adversely affected. He pointed out that because of better implementation of family planning programmes, their population growth has slowed down while the rate of growth in the northern States like U.P. and Bihar remained more of less unaffected. If in such a situation, the latest census was made the basis for redrawing the territorial constituencies or territorial units, the southern States would stand to lose substantially.
It would really amount to punishing them for successful implementation of family planning programmes. Facts and figures were cited in support of such an argument. It was stated that with a view to allaying this apprehension, it should be provided that 1971 cansus shall be the basis of drawing up territorial units. Indeed, such a provision already existed in clause (3) of article 81 of the Constitution. Since we are accepting their plea, it is not necessary to cite the facts and figures in support of the said plea.
3.2.6. We may also refer to the views expressed by several persons and organisations who communicated their views in response to our working paper. Shri Arun Jaitley (senior advocate), Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Secretariat, Shri P.V. Namjoshi, Delhi Bhartiya Grammin Mahila Sangh, Shri C.K. Jain (former Secretary-General, Lok Sabha), Hill States People's Democratic Party, Meghalaya, Registrar High Court of M.P., Jabalpur,. opposed the list system.
Some others, namely , CPI(M), Shri R.S. Narula, retired Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and Manipur People's Party, agreed with the proposal to introduce the list system. Shri R.S. Narula suggested that the list system should be the only method by which the totality of Members of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies should be elected. Several other individuals expressed varying views which need not be specifically referred to herein.