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Question – Even though the law has been able to curb the evil of defections to a great extent, but recent developments in the Indian political scene have underscored the need for a review to tighten all the flaws. Make analysis. – 1 June 2021
To counter the threat of corruption-induced defection, and to ensure political stability, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi introduced anti-defection legislation as the new tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution. Under the law, the Speaker of the House – in Parliament and state legislatures – can disqualify members if they go to a party or vote against their party’s directives (also known as ‘party whips’) or someone don’t vote on the issue. Members can disregard the whip of their party only when two-thirds of their party members decide to defect or revolt in the whip.
In practice, anti-defection law gives political parties the right to impose their views on MPs elected on their tickets. Any disagreement with the political party may result in MPs losing their seats in the legislature. So they have a choice to either bolster their party’s views, and continue their parliamentary term or speak their mind and risk losing their seats in Parliament.
The anti-defection law has created a democracy of parties and numbers in India, rather than a democracy of debate and discussion. Law-making today operates rapidly, not because of the binding force of a party’s logic, but the brute force of the party’s numbers in the legislature.
Main provisions of anti-defection law:
Under the anti-defection law, a public representative can be disqualified if:
- An elected member voluntarily gives up the membership of a political party.
- An independent elected member joins a political party.
- A member votes against the party’s side in the House.
- A member abstains from voting.
- A nominated member joins a political party after the expiry of six months.
The relevance of law in the present times:
Arguments in favor
- Anti-defection law has played an important role in providing stability to the government by preventing the members of the political party from switching sides. Before 1985, it was seen many times that politicians used to leave the ruling party and form the government by joining any other party for their own benefit, due to which there was a possibility of the government falling in the near future. In such a situation, the most impact was on the welfare schemes being made for the common people. The anti-defection law has prompted the ruling political party to focus on other development related issues rather than the stability of its power.
- The provisions of the law have also helped to curb opportunistic politics caused by money or office greed, and to control expenditure caused by irregular elections.
- At the same time, this law has increased the effectiveness of political parties, and weakened the representative- centered system.
Argument in opposition
- The culture of dialogue has great importance in democracy, but due to the anti-defection law, separate, but important ideas are not heard from the party line. In other words, it can be said that due to this, inter-party democracy is affected, and the freedom of expression of the members of the party is endangered.
- Democracy is the rule of the people, for the people and by the people. In a democracy, the people are the rulers, governed by their permission, their progress is considered the only goal of governance. But this law does not promote the system of governance of the parties, that is, the party rule.
- Many experts also argue that there is no anti-defection law in many mature democracies of the world. For example, in countries like England, Australia, America, etc., if the people’s representatives vote against their parties or vote outside the party line, then they remain in the same party.
Need for more changes in anti-defection law
Presently the situation is that the political parties themselves are not discussing any important decision within the party in a democratic manner, and various important decisions related to the party are being taken by only a few people at the top. It is necessary that the recommendations made by the various committees be seriously considered, and if necessary, they should be modified and implemented. The period of disqualification for violation of anti-defection law should be extended to 6 years or more, so that the fear about the law remains in the minds of the leaders. But the House member should also get freedom from the whip so that the power chief does not ignore it, as is visible from the atmosphere right now.