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Day 26 – Q 3.Why are political defections a threat to democratic political processes? Are there constitutional and legal safeguards against political defections? Examine.

3. Why are political defections a threat to democratic political processes? Are there constitutional and legal safeguards against political defections? Examine. 

राजनीतिक दलबदल लोकतांत्रिक राजनीतिक प्रक्रियाओं के लिए खतरा क्यों हैं? क्या राजनीतिक दलबदल के खिलाफ संवैधानिक और कानूनी सुरक्षा उपाय हैं? जांच करें।


Political defection refers to, elected representative giving up allegiance to one political party in exchange for allegiance to another, in a way which is considered illegitimate by the first party. Defection politics in India started after Fourth General Elections held in 1967 and thereafter it continued to draw serious attention of the people. The political instability contributed by large scale political defection was in fact a threat to democracy which many a time reduced the concept of democracy to a mockery.


Political defections a threat to democratic political processes 

  • It creates political instability 

    • In 1990, the V.P Singh Government was abruptly ended because 28 members of the ruling Janata Dal party were expelled by the party and later joined the Janata Dal(S) headed by Chandra Shekhar.
    • There were instances where minority governments absorbed splinter groups into the ambit of the party and transformed into majority governments.
    • Ministerial positions if they undertook defection.
  • Betraying the trust of the electorate
  • Leads to erosion of faith in the mechanism of elections.

Constitutional and legal safeguards against political defections

The constitutional provisions alluding to the consequences of disqualification are Articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution. These Articles states that the person shall be disqualified from being a member of the Legislature if he is so disqualified under the Tenth Schedule.

The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act. It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature.

Grounds for Disqualification

If a member of a house 

  • Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party
  • Votes against party whip.
  • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  • If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.

The Tenth Schedule to the Constitution was challenged before the Supreme Court in the Kihoto Hollohan case. The main challenge to the Tenth Schedule was on grounds of violation of the free speech right of legislators guaranteed under Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution. 

The Constitution Bench, by a majority judgment, held that legislators’ freedom of speech can be reasonably curtailed for the larger interest of the nation. The legislators, who fought and won elections on the basis of the programmes and policies of the political party, are not supposed to do floor crossing midway through the term of the government. 


The fundamental premise of democracy is the protection of the wishes of the people. But at the same time, political stability is essential for the progress of the country and its march forward. The loyalty of the legislators is not first to the party that fielded them, but to the electorate of the constituency that elected them.

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