Political Majority Vs Legislative Majority | UPSC

Political Majority Vs Legislative Majority

  • Context: The Supreme Court has asked whether Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar “contradicted” a Constitution Bench judgment to bank on ‘legislative majority’ as a criterion to declare Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction as the “real” Shiv Sena.
  • Deciding the disqualification petitions filed against Mr. Shinde, Mr. Narwekar had declared the Chief Minister’s camp as the true party based on a finding that he had commanded the legislative majority at the time Shiv Sena splintered in June 2022.

  • Prelims :  Indian polity in news
  • Mains : Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.


  • On May 11, 2023, a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Chandrachud had made it clear that the Speaker must not base their decision as to which group constitutes the political party on a blind appreciation of which group possesses a majority in the Legislative Assembly.
  • The Constitution Bench had differentiated between the legislative wing, composed of the MLAs of the party, and the political wing of the party, made up of the cadre.
  • It had held that the answer to which faction was the real party should be gleaned from the support from the political wing and not the numbers on the legislative side.
  • The court had said the strength in numbers of a faction was of no consequence if the legislators were found guilty of defection by splitting the party.
        • They would be surely disqualified under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
  • A ‘split’ from the original political party without a subsequent merger with another party or the formation of a new faction is no longer a defence for legislators facing disqualification for defection.
  • The Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003 deleted the provision of ‘split’ in Paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule.
  • Note: The disqualification on the ground of defection does not apply if a member goes out of his party as a result of a merger of the party with another party.
        • A merger takes place when two-thirds of the members of the party have agreed to such merger.
        • In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

 Practice Question:

Q . Political defections leading to the fall of democratically elected governments are still rampant despite the existence of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Comment. (Answer in 250 words)



  • Political defections, wherein elected representatives switch parties for various reasons, have been a persistent issue in Indian democracy.
  • Despite the enactment of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, commonly known as the Anti-Defection Law, such occurrences continue to undermine the stability of democratically elected governments.

Lack of Strict Enforcement:

  • One of the primary reasons for the continued prevalence of political defections is the lack of strict enforcement of the Anti-Defection Law.
  • While the law prohibits legislators from defecting to another party after being elected, its implementation often falters due to political considerations and loopholes in the legal framework.
  • Recent events, such as the Maharashtra political crisis, where several legislators switched alliances, highlight the ineffectiveness of the law in deterring defections. Despite public outcry and legal challenges, defections occur with impunity, signaling a failure in enforcement mechanisms.

Political Opportunism and Power Dynamics:

  • Political defections often stem from opportunism and power dynamics within parties and coalitions.
  • Elected representatives may defect to parties in power or those offering better prospects of ministerial positions or other benefits.
  • The lure of political patronage and the desire to secure personal interests frequently outweigh ideological considerations, leading to frequent defections.
  • For instance, in Maharashtra, the recent defections were driven by political calculations aimed at gaining control of the state government rather than principled disagreements.

Supreme Court Intervention and Interpretation:

  • While the Anti-Defection Law provides a legal framework to curb defections, its effectiveness is contingent on judicial interpretation and intervention.
  • The Supreme Court of India has played a crucial role in interpreting the provisions of the Tenth Schedule and addressing legal challenges related to defections.
  • Landmark judgments such as the Kihoto Hollohan case have clarified the scope and limitations of the Anti-Defection Law, affirming the authority of the Speaker to disqualify defectors.
  • However, despite judicial scrutiny, political defections persist, indicating a gap between legal provisions and their practical application.


  • In conclusion, political defections continue to pose a significant challenge to the stability and integrity of Indian democracy despite the existence of the Anti-Defection Law.
  • The lack of strict enforcement, political opportunism, and complex power dynamics contribute to the persistence of defections.
  • While Supreme Court interventions provide legal clarity, addressing the root causes of defections requires comprehensive political and institutional reforms.
  • Strengthening democratic norms, promoting internal party democracy, and enhancing transparency in political processes are imperative to curb the menace of political defections and uphold the sanctity of democratically elected governments.


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