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HVK Archives: Legislation contemplated to make political parties sweet

Legislation contemplated to make political parties sweet - The Observer

Observer Political Bureau ()
5 November 1997

Title: Legislation contemplated to make political parties sweet sorrow
(Part II of II)
Author: Observer Political Bureau
Publication: The Observer
Date: November 5, 1997

'Defectors should vacate seats'

Law Minister Ramakant D Khalap is "hopeful" that a consensus on the
available options for amending the anti-defection law will emerge at the,
all-party meeting scheduled for November 10 and that the Union Government
will be able to introduce a bill on the subject during the coming Winter
session of Parliament, beginning November 19.

Mr Khalap himself has prepared a note on the subject, which he plans to
submit at the all-party meeting.

His views on the matter are that a defector should be made to give up his
seat in the State assemblies or Parliament.

Speaking to newsmen on Tuesday, the Law Minister said that the leaders of
different political parties essentially needed to agree on one of the three
available options -- that defections, in cases of either singular or
groups, should not be allowed: defections should be permitted as the right
to dissent should be allowed to everybody and that a defector should be
barred from holding any official post.

Mr Khalap said that in respect of the need for amending the anti-defection
law there had come about several suggestions: one of these being that
splits should be allowed only when half of the total party strength in the
assemblies or Parliament breaks away instead of the one-thirds provision as
of now.

Mr Khalap reminded that a good amount of controversy had been generated
even at the time when the anti-defection law had been enacted and several
questions had been raised.

In the first few months of the UF Government, he said that the subject of
possible amendments to the anti-defection law had been discussed, but a
consensus had failed to emerge.

The UP developments, he said, had once again brought the issue to the fore
as the provision providing for one-thirds split had led to wholesale horse
trading. Splits, he said. had continued to happen in different legislatures
and Parliament as well, and the power seekers had been taking advantage of
the existing loopholes in the anti-defection law. It was of common
knowledge, Mr Khalap said, that splits had happened more on account of
power lust instead of ideological differences.

The Law Minister said that a comprehensive electoral reforms bill -
incorporating aspects relating to the question of defection - might also be
introduced by the Government during the coming winter session of Parliament.

Mr Khalap also commented on the issue of Article 356 which empowers the
Union Government to dismiss a State Government.

Mr Khalap's view was that a clear approach and attitude on the matter ought
necessarily to be taken by Chief Ministers at the meeting of the
inter-state council.

The meeting of the inter-state council is scheduled for the coming Monday.

The Law Minister's individual view in the matter is that Article 356 could
not be altogether scrapped since situations did sometimes arise when the
imposition of President's Rule became necessary.

However, he felt, certain parameters needed to be evolved in order to
ensure that State Governments were not dismissed on the whims and fancies
of whoever ruled the roost in New Delhi.

In respect of the controversial issue of the transfer of judges the Law
minister said that the Chief Justices of the High Courts would be meeting
on November-end to take a view in the matter.

The Law Ministry would essentially abide by the opinion of the Chief
Justices, he said.

Mr Khalap further said that he would also welcome a law to monitor
inner-party democracy within political parties.

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