Model Question and Answers for APSC | How has the anti-defection law compromised the role of a legislator?
Ans : The anti-defection law was passed in 1985 through the 52 Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution, with an intent to curb “the evil of political defections”. Under the anti-defection law, legislators may be disqualified from their membership to the House if they resign from their party after being elected, or defy the direction issued by the party leadership during a vote on any issue.
Anti-defection law compromised the role of a legislator
While the anti-defection law was introduced to curb political defections and ensure the stability of government, it restrains legislators from effectively carrying out their functions.
1. In a parliamentary system, legislators are expected to exercise their independent judgement while determining their position on an issue.
2. The choice of the member may be based on a combination of public interest, constituency interests, and party affiliations.
3. This fundamental freedom of choice could be undermined if the member is mandated to vote along the party line on every Bill or motion.
4. Effectively, the anti-defection also law breaks the chain of accountability between elected representatives and the voter as now legislator can not represent his voters or constituency.
5. However, the anti-defection law deters a legislator from his duty to hold the government accountable, by requiring him to follow the instruction of the party leadership on almost every decision.
6. Therefore, he may debate and dissent from his party position on an issue in Parliament, but will still be compelled to vote as per the instruction of the party whip.
7. The anti-defection law leads to major decisions in the legislature being taken by a few party leaders and not by the larger body of legislators. This reduces the deliberative function of parliament. Thus, the law has unintended consequences which refrain legislators from effectively carrying out their duties.
1. Since one of the main objectives behind the introduction of the law was to ensure the stability of the government, the application of the law should be restricted to votes which affect the stability of government, i.e., votes on no-confidence motions and money bills.
2. This would also imply that the law would not apply to the upper houses of the legislature, i.e., Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils of states.
3. Decisions for defection cases should be taken by the President (for the centre), or Governor (for states), on the binding advice of the Election Commission.