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Anti-defection law

  • IASbaba
  • February 27, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Anti-defection law

About

  • The anti-defection law was included in the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule in 1985 to combat the “evil of political defections”. 
  • The main purpose was to preserve the stability of governments and insulate them from defections of legislators from the treasury benches. 
  • Any Member of Parliament (MP) or that of a State legislature (MLA) would be disqualified from their office if they voted on any motion contrary to the directions issued by their party.
  • The provision was not limited to confidence motions or money bills (which are quasi-confidence motions). 
  • It applies to all votes in the House, on every Bill and every other issue. It even applies to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils, which have no say in the stability of the government. 

Issues

  • Therefore, an MP (or MLA) has absolutely no freedom to vote their judgement on any issue. They have to blindly follow the direction of the party. 
  • This provision goes against the concept of representative democracy.
  • The anti-defection law makes the MP neither a delegate of the constituency nor a national legislator but converts them to be just an agent of the party.
  • The legislator is accountable to voters, and the government is accountable to legislators. (This should be the norm of representative democracy).
  • The chain of accountability has been broken by making legislators accountable primarily to the party.
  • So, the party forming the government — is unable to hold the government to account.
  • Legislators cannot justify their positions on various issues to the people who elected them to the post.
  • The law hollows out our legislatures > If an MP has no freedom to take decisions on policy and legislative proposals, what would be the incentive to put in the effort to understand the different policy choices and their outcomes.
  • The anti-defection bill weakens the accountability mechanism.
  • It does not even provide stability. The political system has found ways to topple governments.

Conclusion

  • The anti-defection law has been detrimental to the functioning of our legislatures as deliberative bodies which hold the executive to account on behalf of citizens. 
  • It has turned them into fora to endorse the decision of the government on Bills and budgets. 
  • And it has not even done the job of preserving the stability of governments.

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