Kerala High Court terms political defection the 'bane of democracy'

The court proposed imposing financial penalties to deter defection, asserting that without monetary consequences, the problem will persist

Kerala HC was hearing a matter relating to a Kerala State Election Commission order (photo: IANS)
Kerala HC was hearing a matter relating to a Kerala State Election Commission order (photo: IANS)


Only a stringent anti-defection law and imposition of financial penalties on defectors can weed out corrupt practices like political defection, the Kerala High Court has observed.

Terming the practice a bane of democracy, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas underlined that current anti-defection laws have not been effective in curbing the practice.

"The conduct of political defection betrays not only the party under whose ticket the candidate contested the elections but also the will of the people who elected the candidate ... Wriggling out of the evil of anti-defection law on technicalities, despite changing sides after the election, erodes the efficiency of the law enacted. Such attempts will be to the peril of democracy itself. Ingenious methods adopted by the defectors to overcome the rigour of anti-defection law must be dealt with sternly, as otherwise, the purpose of the statute itself could be destroyed," he noted.

"Considering the entire scenario, this Court has a wishful thinking that the time has come to contemplate on including stringent financial penalties for acts of defection. Unless a monetary pinch is felt by the defector, the evil acts that are sought to be remedied by the anti-defection law will continue. However, as it is a matter that requires a legislative exercise, this Court fervently hopes that the legislature will bestow its consideration earnestly", the court said.

The court made these observations while considering two petitions challenging an order of the Kerala State Election Commission that refused to disqualify Mathew Joseph, a member of the Thodupuzha Municipal Council who was elected to the council in 2020 and changed the party from which he contested to another.

However, it did not find any merit in his petition and disqualified the petitioner on the ground of defection.

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