A bane on democracy

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/9/2019 12:08:47 PM IST

 What the current political drama that has been unfolding in Karnataka again brings to mind how crafty politicians continue to violate the very principle against defections through loopholes in the Anti Defection Law. Whether it is floor crossing or simply horse trading, the purpose for such is certainly not in the interest of democracy and by that, also not in the interest of the people who had voted for them. Those who defect are motivated by greed and are turning democracy on its head. The Anti Defection Law was a landmark legislation of the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985 which introduced the 52nd Amendment with insertion of the Tenth Schedule. This amendment helped to restrict the elected members belonging to a political party to leave that party and switch to another party in Parliament. Earlier, paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule recognised a ‘split’ if at least one-third members of the legislature party decided to form or join another political party. However, this provision was done away with by the 91st amendment to the Constitution in 2003. The amendment, which came into force in January 2004, does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead, it recognises a ‘merger’. That means there has to be a split prior to merger with another party. However, Para 4 of the Tenth Schedule makes three points clear : 1. The original political party should merge with another party; 2. As a result, not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party merge with that party and 3. The merger becomes legally recognisable only when two-thirds of the members of the legislature party also merge with the other party. There have been many controversies surrounding the role of the speakers or chairman of the house in the past while deciding for or against disqualifications. Under the Anti Defection law Schedule 6, the speaker of chairman of the house has been given absolute powers to decide on cases related with disqualification on the grounds of attracting provisions of the law. However, the speaker belongs to a party and there arises the issue of conflict of interest. Two Speakers of the Lok Sabha, one being Rabi Ray in 1991 and another being Shivraj Patil in 1993 have themselves expressed doubts on their suitability to adjudicate upon the cases related to defections. Petitions in court have raised questions about the partiality of the speaker or chairman of the house while deciding on such cases. To plug all the loopholes in the Law there is need to rid of defections under the guise of mergers. Para 4 of the Tenth Schedule must be reiterated. To stem the tide of more defections in other states which is being triggered by the recent Lok Sabha election results, those who resign from both the party and the house should be barred from holding any office of power. There should also be a provision where a member of one party who gets elected as a party nominee should sign an undertaking to remain a member of that party for the full five-year tenure of the house. In the current Karanataka political drama, even though the MLAs of both Congress and JDS have voluntarily resigned from the membership of the party and the house, they should not be allowed to contest in the by elections as nominees of a different party till the tenure of the house expires. This will perhaps end the kind of unprincipled politics being played out through bypassing of the Anti Defection Law.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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