ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Washed-out Parliament

Need for Anti-defection Reform



The most recent budget session of Parliament was an almost total washout thanks to disruptions of many kinds. Almost no legislative business was transacted and viewers were treated to the ugly sight of the speaker of the Lok Sabha using her powers to “guillotine” debate on important issues of funding for ministries of the union government. Both, the opposition parties and the government will point fingers at each other, and they would both be right and wrong. The opposition did not seem to want to allow debate on government business to take place, while the government did not seem to particularly care if debate took place or not.

Whatever the immediate causes for this sorry situation, the fact is that the washout of the budget session is part of a trend that has been evident in state legislative assemblies for a while. What is happening in Parliament is only a reflection of the larger dysfunction in the way parliamentary democracy has been working in India at the state level. Some of this is attributable to structural factors, principally constitutional provisions relating to anti-defection and the use of money bills,1 and how these have been interpreted by the Supreme Court. I argue here that securing parliamentary democracy may require a serious rethink on the laws relating to both as they stand.

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Updated On : 20th Apr, 2018
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