Anti Defection Law

Time to revisit the practice of floor test

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Provisions under 10th Schedule

Mains level : Paper 2- Anti-defection law, 10th Schedule

The growing trend of the toppling of the government by luring the MLAs of ruling party. The SC needs to reconsider the floor test usually ordered in such cases. The article analyses this issue here.

Reading Article 191(2) and 10th Schedule

  • Article 191(2) declares that a person shall be disqualified from being a member of the legislative assembly or legislative council of a state if he is so disqualified under the Tenth Schedule.
  • The Tenth Schedule to the Constitution contains “provisions as to disqualification on ground of defection”.
  • Tenth Schedule also fixes the relationship between a member and a political party which selected him as a candidate.
  • It also provides one of the grounds for disqualification: “If he voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party”.
  • The decision as to disqualification is left to the absolute discretion of the Speaker.

Constitutional morality and 10th Schedule

  • Tenth Schedule brings to the fore the need to emphasise “constitutional morality”.
  • Constitutional morality means “strict adherence to the core principles of constitutional democracy”.
  • So, Constitutional transgressions by MLAs coming through a “party platform” to serve the people for five years (Article 172), cannot be accepted.
  • In so doing, these MLAs forget the oath, taken under Article 188 of the Constitution to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as established by law.
  • Legislators do not have absolute freedom to behave in any way they like.

Issues with the floor test

  • When ruling party MLAs are lured with rewards, political or otherwise, then the “floor test” becomes constitutionally immoral and unjust.
  • This will amount to circumventing the Tenth Schedule through engineered defections through the judicial process.
  • It is high time the judiciary revisited the use of a “floor test” to prove a majority in a legislature.

Consider the question “Examine the ways in which a member of the house is deemed to have given up his membership under the 10th Schedule as interpreted in the various judgements. Also, analyse the implications of conducting a floor test in a situation when members of the ruling party are lured with rewards.”

Conclusion

Judiciary must take note of the toppling of the majority government through luring of the MLAs and subsequent floor test by the courts. The floor test in such a situation needs reconsideration.

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