After such consistent failures, can anti-defection law have an impact on corrupt people? What does BJP have to do with it?

Anti-defection law and it’s consistent failures

The country known for being one of the most democratic countries is currently involving itself in everyday political fights. Every new day, we see some party blaming the other party to be corrupt or unfair. During the time of elections, all these cases rise by a huge number. The losing party blames the other to be unfair and blames the voting system to be biased while the winning party blames the losing party/parties with false allegations.

anti defection act - quick revision series - prelims || upsc || ias - youtube

Often times, we witness many political leaders leaving their parties and joining their allies. This leads to distrust among the party members, shakes their stability and leads to the rise of conflicts between the members.

Moreover, it is not ethical at all to leave the party you have signed with without completing your full term. For this, the judicial system of the country has also introduced many laws. In this article, we will be talking about one such law which discourages the party members from leaving their parties without any big reason and will also discuss about how this law is not quite helping currently.

Anti-defection law

The law was introduced to prevent the party members to leave their parties without reaching the end of their terms. The anti-defection law directly punishes the individual MPs/MLAs who leave their parties and join other rival parties without any big reason. The law makes this act as an offence and therefore directly punishes the MPs or MLAs who leave their parties and join the rivals. Moreover, it also allows a group of MPs and or MLAs to merge with another political party without the need of inviting the penalty for defection.

Let us talk about one such reason incident which took place in West Bengal. The Calcutta high court has given orders of the deadline to the West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee. The deadline is till the 7th of October, before which he has to pass an order regarding the defection case involving MLA Mukul Roy. What he has done now if you are wondering?

The MLA had contested and won 2021 on a BJP ticket. However, in a short period of time after winning the election, he left BJP and joined the Trinamool Congress, a rival of the BJP. This led to objections among the party and therefore MLA Suvendhu Adhikari, who was the opposition leader and belongs to BJP, petitioned the Speaker of the Assembly to disqualify Roy as well as other two MLAs who left BJP and joined the Trinamool Congress. These petitions come under the anti-defection law, which is the tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution.

karnataka crisis: why anti-defection law failed its aim and is likely to weaken

The cases regarding the anti-defection law are not just in West Bengal. In the state of Jharkhand, the former CM Babulal Marandi faces such convictions after merging his party, which was Jharkhand Vikas Morcha with the Bhartiya Janta Party. Similarly, in Rajasthan, six MLAs of the Bahujan Samaj Party have left their party and joined the ruling party of the state, which is Congress.

This move was challenged by the Bahujan Samaj Party and finally, the court has given final orders to the six people involved to explain this merger. In the Lok Sabha too, two Trinamool, as well as one YSR Congress party MPs, are booked to face proceedings. Moreover, the Trinamool Congress is looking to disqualify the two MPs involved in this case for joining BJP while the YSR congress wishes to disqualify its MP for anti-party activities.

Talking more about the anti-defection law, this does not penalise the political parties which are involved in encouraging or accepting the defecting legislative and therefore they cannot be booked. The parliament of our country has already added this law in the tenth schedule of the constitution back in the year 1985. The main purpose of this law was to ensure stability to the government and the parties by discouraging the change of parties by the legislators. Why was this introduced?

Well, this was forced to introduce after the toppling of multiple state governments due to the party hopping MLAs after the elections of 1967. This hopping of MLAs from one party to another hampers the stability of the party as well as ruin its reputation in front of the people of the country.

What all constitutes to defection and who has the deciding authority?

The anti-defection law simply deals with three kinds of scenarios. The first and foremost scenario is when legislators which are elected on the ticket of one political party voluntarily give up and leave their party or vote in the legislature against the party’s wishes. A speech of the legislator, inside or outside the legislature can also lead to deciding the voluntarily giving up of the membership.

anti-defection law: time to revisit or repeal?

The second case is quite opposite of the first case. It is when an MP or an MLA who has been elected individually joins a party soon after getting elected. The third case is related to the nominated legislators. In their case, the law specifies that they can join a political party in a time period of six months after getting appointed to the House, and not a moment after that. Violation of law goes under the penalising of anti-defection law and therefore any of these scenarios can lead to a legislator being penalised for causing defection.

You might be wondering who has the authority of penalising any legislator who goes against the law, right? Well, we have the answer for you.

The presiding officers of the legislature at that moment which includes the Speaker and the Chairman have the role of deciding authorities in these scenarios. The supreme court has held that the legislators which have been penalised can contest the judgement of the penalising authority before the higher judiciary.

However, one problem with this law is that there is no time frame under which the speaker has to decide the case of defection, whether the legislator should be penalised or not. There have been many incidents in the country where the speaker has not made the decision of penalising the legislator till the end of the legislature term. There have also been many cases recently of a defecting MLA becoming a minister while a petition under his name is still waiting for the judgement of the speaker. However, things are predicted to change now after the decision of the supreme court that ideally a decision should be made by the Speaker within three months.

Has the law resulted to be effective?

As of now, no. Many parties have to often sequester the MLAs in resorts to avoid them being poached by the rival parties or them getting influenced by them to change their parties. Recent examples of these incidents relate to Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Moreover, parties are also learning to use the anti-defection law for their own advantage. In Goa in the year of 2019, as big as 10 out of 15 Congress MLAs merged their legislature party with the BJP. A similar incident happened in Rajasthan in the same year when six MLAs merged their parties with the ruling Congress party. Many other states have also reported incidents similar to these.

A lot of politics-related individuals have said that this law has failed and should be removed. Hamid Ansari, the former Vice President of the country has said that this law only helps the political parties in scenarios of no motion. Moreover, the Election Commission on the other hand has said that it should be the deciding authority of the defection cases.

The Supreme court has also passed a judgement that the parliament should set up an individual tribunal headed by a retired judge of higher judiciary to decide the fate of people involved in defection cases as this decision would therefore be swift, quick and impartial.

Simerleen Kaur

Talk to me about economics, trade, and all things India.

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