[Answered] Critically examine the success of anti-defection law in India. Highlight its relevance in multiparty parliamentary system.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Examine defection and anti defection law. Importance of anti defection.
Conclusion. Way forward.

The anti-defection law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act. It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. The law was framed in 1985 with the intent of combating the evil of political defections, unfortunately it led to several unanticipated consequences.

How anti defection law failed?

  1. Loss of independence: Anti-defection has led to loss of independence of an average legislator.
  2. Reduced accountability: It prevents parliamentarians from changing parties that has led to  reduced the accountability of the government to Parliament.
  3. Against dissent: The law prevent dissent against party policies. Thus, it interferes with the member’s freedom of speech and expression.
  4. Unbridled power to presiding officer: The defection cases are decided by the presiding officer of the House concerned; whereas, in other matters of disqualification, decision making power rests with the President or the Governor of State. The impartiality of presiding officer is not always guaranteed.
  5. No respite in case kept pending: A party aggrieved by the decision of the presiding office may approach the court. However, if the presiding officer does not dispose the matter and keeps it pending, the aggrieved fails to seek the aid of court.
  6. Puppet of political party: It destroys the spirit of liberty and lead to the practice of puppetry within the party system in a parliamentary democracy.
  7. Prevent discussions and debates: It prevent members to speak up their mind, thus leading to less discussions and lesser healthy debates and solutions in parliament.
  8. No incentives: Due to lack of accountability and limit on speech and expression MPs/MLAs find no incentives to research and understand policies and to find solutions to various issues.

Relevance of anti-defection law in Parliamentary democracy:

  1. It is important is to keep a check on corruption/horse trading in parliament, thus curbing the popular phenomenon of “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram “ in the Indian polity of 1960s.
  2. It prevents shifting of party allegiance by the members. Thus it provides stability to the government.
  3. It promotes party discipline by ensuring that the elected candidates remain loyal to the party.
  4. It has the advantage ensuring loyalty to party manifestos and thus make political party collectively responsible.

Thus, politics of defection calls for a relook. The thrust to tackle the problem of defections in Indian politics led towards the birth of an anti-defection law. The efficacy of defection is still haunting the polity.

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