In light of the events in Maharashtra, with the Uddhav Thackeray government facing internal dissent from a block of 22 MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, the anti-defection law has again come into the spotlight.
- The anti-defection law was included in the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule in 1985 to combat the “evil of political defections”.
- The main purpose was to preserve the stability of governments and insulate them from defections of legislators from the treasury benches.
- The law stated that any Member of Parliament (MP) or that of a State legislature (MLA) would be disqualified from their office if they voted on any motion contrary to the directions issued by their party.
- The provision was not limited to confidence motions or money bills (which are quasi-confidence motions).
- It applies to all votes in the House, on every Bill and every other issue.
- It even applies to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils, which have no say in the stability of the government.
- Therefore, an MP (or MLA) has absolutely no freedom to vote their judgement on any issue.
- They have to blindly follow the direction of the party.
- This provision goes against the concept of representative democracy.