Whisking away party members to hide-outs a discredit to democracy: Supreme Court

Bench refers to Madhya Pradesh political controversy during which MLAs were moved to safe destinations by both BJP and Congress

April 14, 2020 02:22 am | Updated 02:22 am IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India.

A view of the Supreme Court of India.

The “spectacle” of political parties spiriting away their elected members to hide-outs does little credit to India’s democratic politics, the Supreme Court said in a judgment on Monday.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was referring to the Madhya Pradesh political controversy during which legislators were whisked away to safe destinations by the BJP and the Congress to protect their numbers in the House.

“The spectacle of rival political parties whisking away their political flock to safe destinations does little credit to the state of our democratic politics. It is an unfortunate reflection on the confidence which political parties hold in their own constituents and a reflection of what happens in the real world of politics,” the judgment observed.

“Burgeoning evil”

The court called the spiriting away of legislators a “burgeoning evil” which strikes at the very root of the concept of political party as a unit. Once loyal party members tend to stray in favour of personal allurements, the law of defection needs to be armed against this evil, Justice Chandrachud wrote.

“An underlying assumption of the anti-defection scheme outlined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is that the political party is the defined political unit which the Constitution recognises. Where we increasingly see a breakdown in the composition and allegiances of the political party due to private allurements offered to Members as opposed to public policy considerations, the law may have to evolve to address these burgeoning evil,” the judgment said.

The court referred to how terms like ‘political bargaining’ and ‘horse-trading’ have become oft repeated usages in legal precedents.

Justice Chandrachud highlighted that ‘poaching‘ was an expression bandied about by both the Congress and the BJP in court during the Madhya Pradesh case hearing.

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