×

Problems associated with Anti Defection Law

Synopsis: The problems associated with Anti defection law got highlighted again in the Puducherry assembly issue. The law was unable to provide stability to the ruling government which led to the imposition of president rule in the state.

Background:

  • Some MLAs from the ruling government resigned from the Puducherry assembly. This eventually resulted in the imposition of the president’s rule.
  • This is not only the case with Puducherry, similar instances have been seen in the past in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka as well. Due to that, experts are now pointing towards the flaws of Anti defection law.

About Anti Defection Law:

  • The 10th schedule was added to the constitution by the 52nd amendment in 1985. This deals with the Anti defection process.
  • The objective behind such a law was to prevent political defections and provide stability to the ruling government.
  • As per the 10th schedule, a member can be disqualified if he/she votes contrary to his party directions. The speaker/chairman is the final deciding authority in this regard.
  • The law is applicable to Parliament as well as state legislatures. Further, any person disqualified for defecting cannot get a ministerial position unless he/she gets re-elected.

Problems with Anti Defection Law:

  • First, the MPs or MLAs are supposed to act as per the party’s command and not by their own judgment. This undermines representative democracy as they are unable to put forward the demands of the people.
  • Second, the scope of defection is very wide as it is applicable to every bill. It is not restricted to important bills only like no-confidence motion, money bill, etc. moreover, it is also applicable to members of Rajya Sabha and legislative councils which don’t have a say in the stability of the government.
  • Third, it ensures that legislators are accountable to the party and not to voters. Thereby it reduces their status to mere party agents. 
  • Fourth, the elected legislators are unable to ensure independent accountability of the executive. They scrutinise the working as per the collective opinion of the party. This is against the spirit of the Parliamentary system which was adopted to ensure robust accountability.
  • Fifth, the Anti Defection Law also erodes the constructive role of legislatures. Fruitful discussion and debates can’t happen when the legislators are not allowed to freely express their opinions.
  • Sixth, the stability of the government is hampered when multiple resignations are used to topple it as seen in the case of Puducherry. The anti defection law fails to prevent such a thing.
  • Lastly, there is no time limit in which the speaker/chairman takes a call on disqualification. This has led to the creation of unusual situations like opposition members taking ministerial positions as seen in the last Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly term.

Way Forward:

  • The scope of anti defection law needs to be re-examined. It will enable the MPs to perform the dual role as a delegate of the constituency and a national legislator effectively.
    • For example, in the recent vote on the impeachment of former U.S. President Donald Trump, seven members from his party voted to remove him.
  • The voters should be more cautious while casting their votes. Many defectors in States such as Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh got re-elected in the by-polls, thereby encouraging them to do future defections.
  • The speaker/chairman should give decisions within 3 months as advised by the Supreme court.
  • The ultimate solution to defection lies in the creation of robust exit barriers by political parties. It includes an opportunity to rise on merits within a party rather than on inheritance.

To sum up, we can say that the anti defection law has been unable to control the defections. It has reduced the accountability of executives by the legislatures and been unable to provide the desired stability to the elected government.  

Print Friendly and PDF