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The Hindu Editorial

12-January-2024

1. The power to disqualify should be in independent hands.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Indian Constitution – Significant provisions
This article is crucial for UPSC aspirants as it covers a significant political development, highlighting constitutional and legal aspects.
Context:
  • The article discusses Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar’s controversial ruling on disqualification petitions within the Shiv Sena.
  • Highlighting discrepancies with a previous Supreme Court verdict and raising concerns about the adjudicatory function under the anti-defection law being in the hands of legislative Presiding Officers.
More on the news :
  • Maharashtra Speaker rules on Shiv Sena faction disqualifications.
  • Decision favors Eknath Shinde’s group as the ‘real political party.’
  • Speaker’s ruling aligns with May 11, 2023, Supreme Court verdict but raises contradictions.
  • Article underscores concerns over anti-defection law adjudication by legislative officers, impacting political considerations. 
Anti-Defection Law and the Speaker’s Power:
The Anti-Defection Law in India and the Speaker’s power are crucial components of the country’s parliamentary system. The law was enacted to address the issue of lawmakers switching parties, which can lead to political instability. However, over time, there have been various issues and concerns associated with the implementation of the Anti-Defection Law and the discretionary powers of the Speaker. Issues:
  • Speaker’s Discretion: This discretion has raised concerns about impartiality, as the Speaker may belong to a particular political party.
  • Delay in Disqualification: Defection cases often face delays in adjudication, and lawmakers who have defected may continue to enjoy the perks and privileges of their positions until a decision is made.
  • Loopholes and Exploitation: Some loopholes in the law allow political parties to manipulate defection for strategic gains, leading to unethical political practices.
  • Need for Reforms: The law may need reforms to address emerging challenges and ensure its effectiveness in preserving the democratic spirit. 
The Way Forward:
  • Independent Tribunals: Establishing independent tribunals to adjudicate on defection cases rather than leaving the decision solely to the Speaker could enhance fairness and impartiality.
  • Time-Bound Disqualification: Introducing provisions for time-bound disposal of defection cases can prevent unnecessary delays and ensure that lawmakers are promptly disqualified if found guilty.
  • Review of Anti-Defection Criteria: Regularly reviewing and updating the criteria for disqualification to address new forms of political maneuvering and unethical practices can help maintain the law’s relevance.
  • Educating Legislators: Conducting workshops and awareness programs for legislators about the implications of defection and the Anti-Defection Law can promote a better understanding of the consequences.
  • Public Accountability: Strengthening mechanisms for public scrutiny and accountability of lawmakers can discourage opportunistic defections and promote a more transparent political environment.
  • Political Reforms: Broader political reforms, such as electoral reforms and internal party democracy, can contribute to reducing the incentives for defection.
PYQ: ‘Once a Speaker, Always a Speaker’! Do you think this practice should be adopted to impart objectivity to the office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha? What could be its implications for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2020)
Practice Question: Examine challenges in Anti-Defection Law implementation, focusing on Speaker’s powers. Suggest reforms for a more effective democratic process. (150 words/10 m)

2. The Indian Parliament, a promise spurned.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Parliament
The article addresses critical issues in India’s parliamentary system, providing insights on security, governance, and opposition dynamics for UPSC aspirants.
Context:
  • The article discusses the security breach in the Indian Parliament in December 2023, highlighting the subsequent suspension of 146 members and examining the historical context and importance of the parliamentary system in India. 
Overview:
  • The breach in the security of the Indian Parliament in December 2023 raised concerns about the functioning and security of this foundational institution.
  • The subsequent suspension of 146 members from various Opposition parties added a new dimension to the parliamentary discourse.
Historical Context:
  • The choice of the parliamentary form of government in India was a result of extensive deliberations within the Constituent Assembly, with debates revolving around presidential, Indian orthodoxy, Swarajist, and parliamentary systems.
  • The parliamentary model won, emphasizing the need for a decisive authority representing citizens and being responsive to their mandate.
Importance of Parliamentary System:
  • The parliamentary system provides a space for minorities to voice their concerns and allows for the dynamic representation of diverse ethnic and cultural differences.
  • Advocates argue that it is better equipped to handle doctrinal, ethnic, and cultural pluralism, making it an authentic representative of India’s true spirit.
Role of Opposition:
  • The parliamentary system requires stable support for the ruling party but demands constant and critical validation through an effective opposition to ensure fidelity to the common good.
  • The historical evolution of the Opposition in India reflects the challenge of balancing stability and effective opposition within the parliamentary framework.
Current State and Concerns:
  • The security breach in Parliament is seen as a breach inflicted on the nation, prompting the Opposition to demand its centrality in parliamentary discussions.
  • The handling of the issue by the leadership of both Houses is questioned, with suggestions that it may have compromised parliamentary dignity by not addressing the concerns appropriately.
Leadership and Responsibilities:
  • The role of parliamentary leaders, including presiding officers, in addressing security concerns and assuring the Opposition’s participation is crucial.
  • The suspension of a significant number of Opposition members raises questions about the leadership’s commitment to upholding parliamentary principles.
Conclusion:
  • The incident underscores the importance of maintaining the integrity and security of the parliamentary system in India.
  • Balancing the need for effective governance with the demands of a vibrant and critical opposition remains a challenge for the leadership of the House.
PYQ: Do Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees keep the administration on its toes and inspire reverence for parliamentary control? Evaluate the working of such committees with suitable examples. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2021)
Practice Question: Discuss the historical evolution of India’s parliamentary system and its resilience in the face of challenges, with a focus on the role of the opposition (250 words/15 m)

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