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Report No. 170

1.3.2. Introduction of the List System.-

The Law Commission took note of the fact that the 'first-past-the-post' system prevailing in our country had given rise to several inequities and distortions in our electoral process particularly on account of the multiplicity of the political parties. There are certain States in India where there are three or four recognised political parties, more or less evenly balanced. In such a situation what is happening is that the winning candidate is receiving, in many cases, 30% or less of the valid votes cast.

The remaining 70% or more votes polled (cast in favour of the defeated candidates including independents) are practically going waste, without representation, and without a voice in the representative bodies, namely, Parliament and the State Legislatures. It was thought advisable to provide a voice and a representation to the wasted votes which indeed very often constituted a majority of the total votes cast. Another consideration in this behalf was that the first-past-the-post (FPP) system now in vogue is not yielding a correct picture of the voter preferences. In other words, there is no commensurality between the total votes cast in a State or in the country, as the case may be, and the seats obtained by the parties. To be more precise, what is happening is that a political party which has received, say, 32% of the total votes case in the country is obtaining 70% of the seats in Parliament, whereas another political party which has polled, say, 29% of the votes, is getting 25% of the seats in Parliament. A 'swing' of 2 to 3 per cent votes is resulting in a huge difference in the number of seats won. There was yet another situation where a political party is polling a substantial chunk of votes cast in a given State in parliamentary elections but is not able to get a single seat in the Parliament from that State. With a view to rectifying and redressing the aforementioned distortions and inequities, the Law Commission was of the provisional opinion that introducing a List System may serve to redress the aforementioned distortions, at least to a partial extent. For this purpose, we looked to the electoral system obtaining in certain other countries including Germany where a mixed system (FPP and list system) is in force.

In Germany, part of the seats are filled on the basis of FPP system whereunder the members are elected from territorial constituencies and the remaining members are chosen from the lists put forward by the political parties. We did not however think it advisable to import the German system whole-hog for it was found to be extremely complicated and difficult of operation in a country like ours where a sizeable chunk of population is illiterate and is not able to operate such a complicated electoral system. We thought of finding a system more suited to our genius and to the conditions prevailing in our country. Though it would have been advisable to suggest that 50% of the number of members in Lok Sabha or Legislative Assemblies of the States should be filled on the basis of list system, we pegged it at 25%, not only as a starting point, but also with a view not to give room for growth of, or encouragement to, caste-based political parties. We did not wish to encourage in any manner the caste-based political parties or the voting patterns based on caste considerations. Accordingly, it was suggested that in the Lok Sabha as well as in the State Legislative Assemblies, the present strength should be increased by 25% of the existing strength which increased strength should be filled on the basis of list system. The list system was to be confined only to recognised political parties (RPP). There would be no separate vote nor a separate election for the members to be chosen under the list system. It was suggested that each recognised political party should put forward its list of candidates, which will be received, scrutinised and valid list published along with the nominations for elections from the territorial constituencies. It was suggested that for this purpose, 'territorial units' be designated; so far as the bigger States are concerned, each State shall be a territorial unit but in the case of small States, they should either be clubbed with an adjacent bigger State or be clubbed together to form a territorial unit. (This idea of territorial units was suggested to be adopted only in the case of parliamentary general elections and not in the case of elections to the State Legislatures.)

At the end of polling and counting of votes for the territorial constituencies, the Election Commission, it was suggested, should tabulate votes polled by each RPP in a given State/territorial unit and the seats meant to be filled up under the list system be distributed among the RPPs in proportion to the votes polled by them. For achieving the said purpose, it was found necessary to amend not only the Representation of the People Act, 1951 but the Constitution of India itself in the first instance. Accordingly, the suggested amendments both to the Constitution of India and the Representation of People Act, 1951 were shown in the Bills accompanying the working paper. Another connected suggestion was to delete article 331 of the Constitution which empowers the President to nominate two members of Anglo-Indian community to the Lok Sabha. It was explained that this provision which may have been good when the Constitution was enacted, has become irrelevant with the substantial fall in the number of Anglo-Indians over the years and in the light of the miniscule number of this community obtaining today.

Reform of The Electoral Laws Back

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