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Cross-voting & sanctity of the election process

Published: 8th Mar, 2024

Context

Heavy cross-voting by Opposition lawmakers turned the biennial Rajya Sabha elections into a thrilling contest.

Challenges to the Sanctity of Rajya Sabha Elections: A Bigger picture

Despite constitutional provisions and legal safeguards in place, such incidents underscore the need for greater vigilance and accountability in ensuring free and fair elections.

  • Sanctity of the Electoral Process: The fundamental principle of democracy relies on the sanctity of electoral processes. However, instances of cross-voting challenge this principle, raising doubts about the fairness and transparency of the elections. The need to uphold the integrity of the electoral system becomes imperative to maintain public trust in democratic institutions.
  • Implementation of Anti-Defection Laws: The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, commonly known as the anti-defection law, aims to curb unethical practices such as defection and voting against party lines. However, the applicability of these laws to Rajya Sabha elections has been a subject of debate. While the law prohibits defection, its enforcement during Rajya Sabha polls remains ambiguous, leading to loopholes that can be exploited.
  • Role of the Judiciary: The judiciary plays a crucial role in upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring adherence to constitutional norms. While the Supreme Court has upheld the use of open ballot for Rajya Sabha elections to promote transparency, recent incidents of cross-voting highlight the need for judicial intervention to address electoral malpractices effectively. The court's proactive stance in safeguarding democratic values is essential to maintain the sanctity of the electoral process.
  • Upholding Democratic Values: At the core of the issue lies the imperative to uphold democratic values and principles. Cross-voting not only undermines the democratic mandate but also erodes public confidence in the electoral system. Addressing this challenge requires a multi-faceted approach, encompassing legal reforms, judicial oversight, and institutional accountability, to ensure that the electoral process remains free, fair, and transparent

What reforms are required?

  • The incidents of cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections underscore the pressing need for comprehensive reforms to safeguard the sanctity of the electoral process.
  • Upholding democratic values and principles should be a collective endeavor involving all stakeholders, including the legislature, judiciary, and civil society.
  • Only through concerted efforts can India's democratic institutions uphold the integrity of elections and preserve the essence of democracy.
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