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WHY ANTI-DEFECTION LAW HAS FAILED ITS PURPOSE?

Focus: GS-II Governance

Introduction

The anti-defection law is supposed to deter elected legislators from defecting from their political parties.

They can lose their seats in the legislature for defying their party, and if declared a defector, they cannot become a minister in a government for six months.

However, many recent events have raised concerns that MLAs and political parties have become adept at using and bypassing the anti-defection law.

Problems with laws

I- It only punishes MLAs for switching parties.

Political parties who are at the heart of our politics have no liability under the law. They benefit from defections and are often accused of enticing MLAs of rival parties to switch loyalties.

II- Limits are only on electoral spending by a candidate.

Limits on electoral spending apply only to candidates and Political parties can spend an unlimited amount on behalf of their candidates.

III- No restriction on political parties to give tickets to those facing Criminal Charges.

Individuals convicted with a prison term of over two years cannot stand for elections, but there is no restriction on political parties to give tickets to individuals who face criminal charges which are pending before courts.

Way Forward suggested

A lasting solution to the problem can come from the adherence by political parties to a code of conduct that takes into account the fundamental priorities and decencies that ought to govern the functioning of democratic institutions.

-Source: Indian Express

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October 2022
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