Uddhav Thackeray’s government facing internal dissent from a block of 22 MLA led by Eknath Shinde, has brought the anti-defection law again into the spotlight. Such events were also witnessed in Puducherry, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka.
- The anti-defection law was included in the constitution as the Tenth schedule via the 52nd amendment act 1985 to combat the evil of political defection.
- The law punishes an individual member of parliament or even MLAs for leaving one party for another.
- The decision on a question of disqualification on the ground of defection is taken by the Chairman or Speaker of such house which is subject to judicial review.
PURPOSE OF THE LAW
- The main purpose was to preserve the stability of the government and insulate them from the defection of the legislator from changing parties and was in the response to the toppling of multiple state governments back in 1985 due to hopping MLAs.
- Any member of parliament and legislature would be disqualified from the office if they vote on any motion contrary to the direction of the party, to ensure that party member does not violate the mandate of the party.
- The drafting committee believed that India needed a government that was accountable even at the cost of stability but the anti-defection weakened the accountability mechanism.
- MP/MLA has absolutely no freedom to vote. Their judgment on any issue has to blindly follow the direction of the party.
- If an MP has no freedom to take decisions on policy and legislative proposals, there would be no incentive to put in the effort to understand the different policy choices and their outcomes.
- The legislature is accountable to the voter and the government is accountable to the legislature, this chain of accountability has been broken by the anti-defection law.
- The political system has found a way to topple the government by reducing the total membership through resignation which again affects the stability which was the core purpose of the anti-defection law.
- Many times, the Speaker has delayed deciding on the disqualification.
- The election commission should be the deciding authority in defection cases.
- The Supreme court has suggested that parliament should set up an independent tribunal headed by a retired judge in case of anti-defection.
- Anti-defection rule should be applied only at the time of a no-confidence motion to save the government.
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