Defection should be treated as a constitutional sin: Abhishek Manu Singhvi
New Delhi, Aug 01: Defection is a constitutional sin and ways to solve this issue should be a priority, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, member of Parliament said.
Dr. Singhvi, a senior advocate and national spokesperson of the Congress said at a webinar on Parliamentary Democracy that a whip should be reserved for falling governments. This should be used only for confidence votes or money bills such as the Budget.
Dr. Singhvi said that the webinar organised by advocate, J Ravindran that defection is a major issue and is a constitutional sin, which involves opportunistically ditching a party. If a speaker wants to help you, he need not decide anything for years. When the political equation suits you, then the speaker ends up deciding in three days, he also said.
He also lamented about the fact that a defection is engineered, then elected leaders resign and this reduces the strength of the House. It creates an artificial majority for one group and they circumvent the defection law. Singhvi also said.
A few years back there was a bonhomie, when I sat at the Central Hall of Parliament. These are facets of Indian democracy, but they need to be underlined and emphasised. This is the spirt that we must preserve.
I am extremely concerned that vendetta politics and narrowness is growing. This would be the beginning of the end of parliamentary democracy and at the national level unfortunately, this is a new development, he also added.
Parliament is for a fair and open discussion and it is supposed to symbolise and signify the assent of India's diverse population to decisions of governance and population.
Giving out his wish list for reform, Dr. Singhvi said that he laments the fact that MPs have no power to initiate legislation. Only the government of the day can initiate a legislation. If I have an excellent legislative proposal, I can only propose it, but it is up ton the government to take or not. This must change, he said.
Speaking on the Rajasthan issue, he said that under Article 174 the Governor has no power except to call for a session if the Cabinet tells him. He is not a member of the assembly. He is an ornamental gatekeeper, who can open the gate in a formal way, but cannot come inside and play. Can a Governor take more than a month to call an assembly? Everything cannot be solved by the courts. Unfortunately when the protectors of the Constitution become the destroyers, then nothing can save the system, he also said.
The anti-defection law needs a one line amendment. It should say if you have resigned and created an artificial majority, then the person shall be barred from becoming a minister for six months. In today's scenario, you can resign, become a minister and then face the elections after six months.
"I think it is time to decide fundamentally whether defection is a sin or not. The value judgment is that you will not change the party. Once you decide that defection is a sin, then let us make it to avoid all the circumvention."
Defection is not only about violating the whip. It is also about not attending party meetings. Sachin Pilot says he is part of the Congress and wants to be part of it. But he will not attend the party meeting, Dr. Singhvi also said.
On the ordinance route taken by the governance, he said that this has a place in the Constitution. This route can be used only for truly emergent situations. The other route is the Money Bill route. In this the last word is with the Lok Sabha. This in fact makes the Rajya Sabha redundant. A Money Bill must predominantly deal with money matters such as the Budget, Dr. Singhvi also said.
On the disruptions in Parliament, he suggested a few measures. If MPs come into the well and disrupt Parliament, the first thing to do would be cut their salary. The next would be to get the marshal to suspend the MP for the day. In case of repeated disruptions, the MP could be suspended for the session, he also added.
Dr. Singhvi also said that the sittings of Parliament and assemblies must increase. Assemblies sit an average of just 20 to 30 days. In the case of Parliament it is 4.5 months, which s better. However, there could be more sittings, he also said.
Dr. Singhvi said that India is the most vibrant democracy. Please ask yourself why India is the only country that has remained a vibrant democracy after having emerged from the British rule. We got a Gandhi before a Nehru. There is no better person who could have used ahimsa to get independence. There was none better than Nehru and he had the large heartedness to preserve and enhance democracy. Gandhi followed by Nehru is the real answer to India's vibrant democracy.