The tenth schedule of the constitution has weakened the democratic credentials of India’s representative democracy. Critically analyze.

The 52nd constitutional amendment act 1985, introduced the 10th schedule in the Indian constitution also known as Anti defection law. Provisions of this schedule are:

  • It provides for disqualification of members of parliament and state legislature in case of defection.
  • It is applicable to independent members, nominated members, and members of political parties.
  • The presiding officer has the power to decide on such matters that whether defection has occurred or not.

Tenth schedule vs Representative Democracy:

  • Does not distinguish between dissent and defection, thus curtailing the freedom of speech and expressions of elected members.
  • Differential treatment of nominated vs independent members.
  • Curbs inter-party democracy by necessitating voting on party lines.
  • Differential treatment for Individual defection vs group defection as there is no disqualification in case of a merger.
  • Since members are bound by the whip, the 10th schedule virtually makes the executive supreme over the legislature.
  • It kills differential opinions and viewpoints.

Even though the 10th schedule suffers from various shortcomings when it comes to its effective implementation, it remains essential to prevent political horse-trading, ensure the stability of the government, and keep a check on political luring.

Various recommendations:

  • Dinesh Goswami committee – Tenth schedule should be invoked only when the stability of government is in question, eg. Passage of budget, No-confidence motion, etc.
  • Kihoto Hollohan case – There should be some independent authority to deal with Anti defection law.

The national commission to review the working of the constitution suggests that the presiding officer must function on the advice of the election commission with respect to the 10th schedule.

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