Anti defection law

With the recently announced Karnataka Assembly by-election results, the relevance of the anti defection law is also being questioned. In the recent past, almost all the MLAs disqualified by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker are going to win the by-elections in the recent by-elections. This development of electoral democracy clearly indicates a change in the anti defection law, as this incident has presented an example of misuse of the anti defection law to the electoral parties and it is possible that such incidents will happen in future See also.

What is anti defection law?

Anti defection law
  • In the year 1985, through the 52nd Constitutional Amendment, an ‘anti defection law’ was passed in the country. Also, the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution which includes anti defection law was added to the Constitution through Indian amendment.
  • The main objective of this law was to end the practice of ‘Dal-Badal’ in Indian politics, which was very prevalent in Indian politics before the 1970s.

Main provisions of anti defection law:
Under the anti defection law, a public representative can be disqualified if:

  • An elected member voluntarily relinquishes membership of a political party.
  • An independent elected member joins a political party.
  • A member votes in favor of the party in the House.
  • A member excludes himself from voting.
  • After the end of six months, a nominated member joins a political party.

Power to disqualify

  • By law, the Speaker of the House has the power to take decisions on disqualifying members.
  • If any complaint related to the party of the Speaker of the House is received then any other member elected by the House has the right to take a decision in this regard.

Exceptions to anti defection law

The law mentions some special circumstances in which even a change of party will not be disqualified. The anti-defection law allows a political party to merge with or with another political party provided that at least two-thirds of its MLAs are in favor of the merger. In such a situation neither the law will apply to the party-changing members nor to the political party. Apart from this, the member who becomes the Speaker of the House is exempted from this law.

Why was the anti defection law introduced?

  • Political parties play a very important role in the democratic process and in principle the important role of political parties is that they collectively take democratic decisions.
  • However, within a few years of independence, it was felt that their collective mandate was being ignored by political parties. Governments started forming and collapsing due to the manipulation of MLAs and MPs.
  • In the 1960s-70s, the politics of ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’ had become very popular in the country. In fact, in October 1967, Gaya Lal, an MLA from Haryana, brought the issue into the political mainstream by changing parties three times within 15 days.
  • With this, soon there was a need to stop and disqualify the members who violated the mandate given to the parties.
  • Finally in the year 1985, anti defection law was introduced through constitutional amendment.

Law Relevance

Anti defection law

Arguments in favor

  • The anti defection law has played an important role in providing stability to the government by preventing political party members from changing parties. Before 1985, it was seen many times that politicians used to form a government for their benefit by joining any other party except the ruling party, due to which there was a possibility of the government falling soon. 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 the opportunistic politics caused by money or office gluttony and to control the expenditure caused by irregular elections.
  • Also, this law has increased the effectiveness of political parties and weakened the representative centric system.

Argument in opposition
The culture of dialogue has great importance in a 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 this has an effect on inter-party democracy and the freedom of expression of the members associated with 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, ruling with their permission, its progress is considered to be the sole 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 in many mature democracies of the world, there is no such system as anti-party law. For example, in countries like England, Australia, America etc. if the people’s representatives vote opposite to their parties or vote separately from the party line, they remain in the same party.

Various committees

  • Dinesh Goswami Committee

The Dinesh Goswami Committee, formed in the year 1990 on electoral reforms, said that the decision to disqualify the delegates under the anti defection law should be taken by the President / Governor on the advice of the Election Commission.
The nominated members of the House concerned should be disqualified if they join any political party at any time.

  • 170th Report of the Law Commission:
Anti defection law

In 1999, the Law Commission, in its 170th report, said that if two or more parties contest a coalition before the election, then that coalition should be treated as one party in the anti-defection provisions.
Political parties should issue Whip only when the stability of the government is threatened. like-
Order to be disqualified in the event of not voting in favor of the party or not voting any party.

  • Election Commission opinion:

In this regard, the Election Commission believes that its own role should be comprehensive.
Therefore, decision should be arranged by the President / Governor on the binding advice of the Commission under the Tenth Schedule.

Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu

In the 1993 Kihoto Holohan v. Zachilhu case, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the Speaker of the Assembly would not be final. Legislative Speaker can be judicial reviewed. The Court held that the provisions of the Tenth Schedule do not violate the democratic rights of elected members in Parliament and state legislatures. Also, they do not violate the freedom of expression in any way under Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution.

Road ahead

  • Anti defection law is seen as a historic step in India’s moral politics. This law has played an important role in ending the politics of ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’ in the country. However, in the last few years, the existence of this law has been challenged many times in the politics of the country.
  • At present, the situation is that political parties are not discussing any important decision in a democratic manner within the party and various important decisions related to the party are being taken by only a few people from the top.
  • It is necessary to seriously consider the recommendations given by various committees and if necessary they should be rectified and implemented.
  • The period of disqualification for violation of anti defection law should be extended to 6 years or more, so that the fear of the leaders about the law remains.
  • Anti-defection law can play an extremely important role in ensuring discipline and good governance in the parliamentary system, but it needs to be refined so that the world’s largest democracy can also prove to be the best democracy.

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