This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Paarth Manjarekar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Not Even Our Parliamentarians Have Complete Freedom Of Expression, Thanks To This Law

By Paarth Manjarekar:

A view of the Indian parliament building is seen in New Delhi July 21, 2008. India's parliament begins debate on a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government on Monday that will decide the fate of a nuclear deal with the United States and could trigger a snap election. REUTERS/B Mathur (INDIA) - RTR20DZA
Image Credit: Reuters/B Mathur.

There exists today, in the constitution of India, an apparent and wide loophole. We chose the parliamentary democracy so our Members of Parliament can be free and the system of accountability of Cabinet ministers is upheld. The Cabinet ministers (part of the Council of Ministers) with the portfolios of and authority over finance, defence, home, foreign affairs and such, form the nucleus of union administration. The primary feature of democracy is that these ministers cannot govern as dictators and are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. The members of this House can pass a ‘no-confidence’ motion against any or all of the cabinet members in the event that they assume dictatorial tendencies or act against the constitution or the interests of our great nation.

The Anti-Defection Law (introduced in the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985), bars ministers from having their own personal thought and opinion, and makes it obligatory for them to vote according to their Party’s decision.

Made operational in the year 1985, the law provides that an elected member of the union or the state parliament stands to be disqualified from his post if he does any of the following:

1. voluntarily gives up membership of the party, while still in the parliament or,
2. votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party.

This means that were you to be a member of a party ‘A’, which has a certain stance on a bill or a policy, you as a member of parliament simply do not have the right to your own opinion regarding that bill or policy. You are obligated, in order for you to keep your job, to agree with the party, regardless of your experience, education, or learning.

In its essence, the law provides for ‘Party Rule’ where, in open contradiction to the very essence of democracy, the MP, an elected representative of the free people of India, is himself/herself not free to act in accordance with public sentiment. Neither is he/she allowed to make independent decisions based on his/her own moral and/or educated opinion and must succumb to the decision of the Party.

In theory, it is an open contradiction of the concept of democracy. The reasons for it still being in existence are somewhat convoluted. It is the duty of the highest, most competent judicial authority in India, the Supreme Court, to ensure that there is no breach of democratic policy in the working of the government. This body is independent and, ideally, impartial with certain special powers. Why then, would this authority let such a bill continue to stay in existence?

There are certain benefits to the anti-defection law, mainly disciplinary. Rogue ministers, having a grudge, or those who won by virtue of their party’s circumstantial popularity and not on their own merit are not given much power to sway a parliamentary vote. Observing impartially, we can see that if it is the party ideology the public votes for, the anti-defection law makes it a mechanical process for that same ideology to be incorporated into laws and legislations. Furthermore, the anti-defection law gives recognition to the different political parties in the parliament as separate groups.

That being said, its implications and applications are far from fair.

It was in October, in the year 2010, when the speaker of the Karnataka state assembly, then dominated by the Yeddyurappa government, under the Anti-Defection Law, disqualified a total of 16 MLAs from the assembly (11 BJP, 5 independent), to survive a no-confidence vote (a vote to establish no confidence of the house in the ruling party, which leads to the resignation/removal of the ruling party). This is only one example of this law being misused and shows the extent to which it can be misused.

In August 2012, the then Meghalaya Speaker P.K. Kyundiah suspended the voting rights of five independent members. The House was to take up a no-confidence motion against the B.B. Lyngdoh-led Meghalaya United Parliamentary Party (MUPP) government led. It is within the authority of the speaker of the house, a representative of the ruling party, to disqualify members under the anti-defection law. Such a speaker, being a representative of the majority party, is limited only by judicial review.

Coming now to the most important point. This bill has successfully turned the Parliament, a forum for debate and discussion, into a room of robots, where the laws are made by backroom deals among the leaders of the party. There is no incentive for our MPs to sit in session!

In such a situation, the cabinet members become fearless to push their party’s agenda to the fullest, be it religious, regional, an obligation to an industry or industrialist, or a greed for power; a desire to decide what people can and cannot eat, drink and watch, or the arrogance to decide which of us can marry and which among us can’t; to defend or promote communal violence, or even to alter constitutional procedure, and so on.

All this, because the members of the Lok Sabha, the only body with the power to dissolve the union cabinet, has no choice today. All they can do is vote for their party or lose their job, their vote having counted for nothing!

You must be to comment.

More from Paarth Manjarekar

Similar Posts

By Rajeev Kumar

By Sushruta

By Numan Ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below