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Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar to head committee to review anti-defection law

Updated on: 28 January,2024 10:23 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Sunday said that a committee headed by Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar would be formed to review the country's anti-defection law

Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar to head committee to review anti-defection law

Pic: PTI File

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Sunday said that a committee headed by Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar would be formed to review the country's anti-defection law.

He made the announcement after the 84th All India Presiding Officers' Conference in Mumbai, newswire PTI reported.

The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution provides for the prevention of defection of the elected and nominated members from their political party and contains stringent provisions for curbing the menace of switching over of legislators.

Birla said Narwekar will head the committee that will be formed to review the anti-defection law.

Earlier this month, Narwekar gave his verdict on cross-petitions filed by Shiv Sena factions seeking disqualification of each other's MLAs, under the anti-defection law, following a split in the party in 2022.

Narwekar is currently hearing similar petitions filed by two rival NCP factions.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said debates in legislative bodies have been reduced to quarrels and likened disruptions and disturbances in legislatures to the COVID menace for democracy.

Addressing the valedictory session of the 84th All India Presiding Officers' Conference, he said presiding officers of legislative bodies should invoke their authority to ensure decorum.

“It is no secret that disturbances and disruptions are planned, at whose behest placards are printed and slogans coined. Political weaponry is counterproductive and had no place in our system," he said.

The erosion of public faith in representative bodies and representatives is “cancerous” for the society, he said.

The presiding officers should engage in stock-taking and invoke authority to ensure decorum. They must do correctional therapy to stop degeneration, he said.

The vice president also said the presiding officers should also ensure the blossoming and nurturing of the first-time legislators.

“The presiding officers are guardians of the democratic pillars,” he said.

“Be receptive to the other's point of view. Debates are the cornerstone of democracy. They have been reduced to quarrels and it is a painful scenario,” Dhankhar said.

The incidences of indiscipline and unbecoming demeanour are on the rise and pride is taken in disruptions, he lamented.

“This is disturbing and calls for an introspection to find a way out," Dhankhar said, adding that it is essential for the presiding officers of both houses of a legislature to work in tandem.

Dhankhar said a strong democracy thrives not just on sound principles but also on leaders committed to upholding them.

“As presiding officers, we bear the responsibility of being guardians of democratic pillars,” he said. The presiding officers' duties include ensuring that the legislative process is meaningful, accountable, effective, and transparent, giving voice to the people, Dhankhar said.

Legislature is the most impactful platform for reflection of all shades of opinions. “People from all states of the country come, they bring to the table various points of view. There is a need to be receptive to the other point of view,” he said.

He said the scenario at present is that debates have been reduced to quarrels and called it disgustful and painful for the public.

“Look at the people outside. They elect us, they have expectations from us. They want their aspiration to be realised through us. And look at how painful it is for them, the spectacle when someone engages in disruptions. And then it's all the more painful as they take pride in disruption,” he said.

Such disruptions and disturbances are no less than the COVID menace for democracy, Dhankhar said. As a consequence of this “menacing trend”, both productivity and quality of contributions are virtually nosediving, he said.

When legislators engage in disruptive and unruly conduct within the hallowed precincts of legislative bodies, it leads to a subtle erosion of faith in the institutions created by the Constitution that is the nectar of democracy, he said.

The erosion of public trust in their representative bodies, or for that matter, their representatives is perhaps the most worrisome thing, which should engage the utmost attention of the political class of the country.

Disruption in legislatures is cancerous not only for legislatures but also for democracy and society. Curbing it is not optional but an absolute necessity to save the sanctity of the legislature, he said.

It is high time presiding officers invoked their authority to ensure discipline and decorum as the lack of these is virtually shaking the very foundations of legislatures, he said.

To ensure democracy thrives in the country, Dhankhar said, parliamentarians should believe in 4 Ds ¿ Dialogue, Debate, Decorum and Deliberations ¿ maintain maximum distance from 2 Ds ¿ Disturbance and Disruption.

He also said the website of Parliament will have all the laws and acts enacted so far and people will have access to them. (With inputs from PTI)

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