‘A member of parliament has no power to vote against his party as per the constitution of Bangladesh. If he or she votes against the will of his party, though the will is malafide, he /she will lose his seat in the parliament” – I consider this type of hindrance to be a strong barrier for the cultivation of real democracy which in turns appreciate the tendency of dictatorship. Throughout the assignment I will explain and illustrate my opinion, the logic behind my opinion, also the relevant fields. I will also identify the legal area. Voting against one’s own party is considered to be floor crossing. This term “floor crossing” can also be defined as “side swapping” or “political defection”. It is described as Article 70 in the constitution of Bangladesh. The article is thought by many to impede the true spirit of democracy and a functional parliament. Many political scenario of our country is directly catalyzed by this act. That’s why the term “political defection” and article 70 has a close relationship. Though political defection is more likely to be involved with freedom of speech, personal liberty, self esteem etc. through this act the Member of Parliament are voting against their will only to support the political group. It’s the violation of personal liberty. Even our neighboring countries are allowing their member of the parliaments to vote against their party, though some of the countries are also incorporating the anti-defection law). Giving vote against own party means losing membership. Through incorporating this explanation, the Member of Parliaments’’ freedom was curtailed absolutely giving them no option, but to follow the party’s order. A member of parliament who is elected directly by the vote of the people is always expected to express oneself in a democratic sprit. it is compulsory for the MP’s to vote on party’s line. No MP can dare to raise his/her voice against the party. Members are elected for a period so five years making pledges to their respective constituencies on the basis of political program and, therefore, it was undemocratic to tie them down to the dictates of a political party
Here, I’m mentioning the Article 70 from the constitution of Bangladesh:
70. Vacation of seat on resignation, etc.
(1) A person elected as a member of Parliament at an election at which he was nominated as
a candidate by a political party shall vacate his seat if he resigns from that party or votes in
Parliament against the party. Explanation. – If a member of Parliament-
(a) being present in Parliament abstains from voting, or
(b) absents himself from any sitting of Parliament, ignoring the direction of the party
which nominated him at the election as a candidate not to do so, he shall be deemed
to have voted against that party.
(2) If, at any time, any question as to the leadership of the Parliamentary party of a political
party arises, the Speaker shall, within seven days of being informed of it in writing by a person claiming the leadership of the majority of the members of that party in Parliament, convince a meeting of all members of Parliament of that party in accordance with the Rules of
procedure of Parliament and determine its Parliamentary leadership by the votes of the majority through division and if, in the matter of voting in Parliament, any member does not
comply with the direction of the leadership so determined, he shall be deemed to have voted
against that party under clause (1) and shall vacate his seat in the Parliament.
(3) If a person, after being elected a member of Parliament as an independent candidate,
joins any political party, he shall, for the purpose of this article, be deemed to have been
Elected as a nominee of that Party.
The History behind This Law:
Floor crossing or voting against the arty decision or being absent in the house in protest of a party’s undemocratic decision is always connected with the democratic rights like personal liberty freedom of speech etc. In developed countries like Britain, USA, Canada, France, three exists unfettered voting right member of the legislature. To stop floor crossing is an inconceivable matter in those countries. so to know about the source of this law we have go to history of east Pakistan law history .it was the result of the 25years political bitter experience of political defection in Pakistan politics. Intentional political defection and widespread floor crossing were the only cause of fall of parliament government falling. The past experience of past Pakistan history of parliamentary system showed that the members once elected tended to cross the floor for their selfish needs. They would defy party decisions and ignore party commitments made to the people of the country. It also harms the people just because of the dirty intention of a Member of the parliament. This encouraged factionalism and ultimately disrupted the stability of the government. After seeing this scenario of politics of East Pakistan and defection within the Awami league which have justified the Insertation of law in Article 70.even some of the people supported it, one of them said ‘It was a healthy sign to provide a suitable basis for the growth and success of democracy in East Pakistan’
‘Article 70’ a Great Hindrance to the Ensuring of Law in the Country:
Rule of law is distinguished from rule of man or party. Means rule which is [assed in a democratically elected parliament after adequate discussion and deliberation. When there is the scope of adequate deliberation and discussion over a bill. it creates the environment to remove undemocratic provisions from it. But because of Article 70 no dissertations opinion can be made by the members of the ruling party and as a result every bill, however undemocratic it may be, gets quickly passed or approved. The government always tries to avoid controversy also from ordinances. The number of ordinances placed for approval is always far larger than the general bills. It sometimes takes 4 or 5 days for the ordinances parliament session. Parliament democracy should let grow the way it want. The success of parliament democracy depends on democracy and discipline within the party unit. Intentionally floor crossing can’t be found in developed countries. The Article 70 has also been used as a major reason of the opposition party to keep continuing the House boycott. If a party decides not to join the parliament, all of its lawmakers must honor the party’s decision no matter whether it is right or wrong. Under Article 70, it does not matter how seriously you debate or with what logic you can show that the other side’s position is not clear . It is quite hard to get anyone on the other side of the fence to get forces with you for the simple reason that the Constitution forbids it to do so. If we demolish Article 70 to allow lawmakers to vote their consciences, then the controversy may not change for the betterment , still things may be changing for the worst but such a reformation at least call a change for the better future of judicial system. Amending Article 70 may not solve all our political problems as there is a lot of it, but it can be the very first step to reform the Parliament and giving it the power to function as it should be in a parliamentary democracy.
Effects of Article 70 in Bangladesh:
A) Backlash among the Member of Parliament: people conception varies a lot from person to person. So do the same implied for the MPs. In one party there may be contradiction among the MPs in opinion. When one has to abide other opinion leaving own. It creates contradiction between the members of parliament. Many of them as a result get disappointed and don’t feel any duty toward their political party. The freely speaking right of the Member of the parliament is taken directly or indirectly. So the feel lack of confidence and self-esteem.
B) Scope of Dictatorship: it increases dictatorship among the party leaders which is quite alarming for the rise of democracy. If the Member of Parliament can’t express his/her opinion, they get frustrated for this reason because their opinion is not evaluated. it also creates immense opportunity of dictatorship among the member of parliaments.
C) Lack of responsibility: minister and the Member of Parliament feel less responsibility towards their duty as their opinion is not evaluated or they are not getting any positive response. Even though, there is no provision in Bangladesh to perform the individual responsibility. So the member of the parliament shows no duty toward their country as well as toward the people who has elected them.
D) Contradiction in the constitutional system: here, we follow parliamentary government in Bangladesh from the very beginning. The system of parliamentary government is described as the government should be responsible to the parliament. Another thing is, under the presidential government, government is not responsible to the parliament. But as we can see that Article 70 is creating problems in the system of being responsible to the parliament, so we can say in this context, we are actually not practicing the parliamentary government process in Bangladesh. So we are in a position where conflicts with the actual Parliamentary government spirit.
My Opinion Regarding This Topic:
Here, the causes is behind not removing or changing the anti floor crossing law I believe stable and effective government system is always more important than the laws. In our country we have seen in the past and still that political member of parliament became corrupted and self interest base human, greed and power expectations among the political people are common phenomena in our country as well as in all over the third world. So, it will be quite unrealistic in terms of Bangladesh just to remove this law. Removing this law might create another unexpected situation and the government may fall without any reason as the solidarity is also low among the Member of Parliament. So, the prevention of floor crossing is needed for the stability of the government. As the Law needs to be fair and free from everything.
Keeping in mind all the discussion I have made, a little change is a must in Article 70. I think the Article 70 should allow voting on motion of confidence and money bill or passing the budget. the budget or money bill is not always connected to the stability of the government.
I am not saying only changing this law will make the parliament lively and meaningful, but still it will help us to have a stable government system as well as applying rule of law and democracy which is very important in order to achieve a responsible government. By changing this law the government will not fall and still there will be some implication of rule of law.
Anti-Floor crossing law in our neighboring countries:
Here, I am going to discuss about the countries around our border who are taking part in this law of anti floor swapping. Anti floor crossing law can be also found in our neighboring country India and Pakistan. But, in these two countries the law is more logical and practical than our country; it also shows how developed their judicial system is. According to the constitution of Pakistan only in the case of election of the prime minister, motion of confidence and money bill if someone votes against the party or do not attend in voting for the party then only he or she loses his or her own seat or membership. On the other hand, under the constitution of Bangladesh regardless of the issue if some member votes against his own party or does not participate in voting at all or be absent during the voting he loses his membership. So, in Pakistan if a party wants to pass an un undemocratic bill someone from the same party can vote against it, but in Bangladesh there is no such chance. The Member of Parliament is bound to follow the rule. Even in India there is a specific rule to vote against one’s own party, but if someone breaks that specific rule without permission then only he is to be guilty. But if the party forgives the person within fifteen days then he will not lose his membership. Thus, we can see that compare to Bangladesh in both India and Pakistan the floor crossing law is much more convenient.
Political parties need to be more responsible towards the country and the people, then it there is no need to any article 70. Though, I believe to establish the rule of law and to witness ultimate spirit of Parliamentary government we need to get rid of this law. But, this is not possible in reality at least in this moment. The whole system need to be developed a lot for the change. I would like finish my assignment mentioning a popular quote of Edmund Burke , ‘Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.’
- Ahmed, M(1993), Bangladesh : Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, P.108
- Halim, A, (1998). ‘Anti-Defection law in Article 70’Constitution, Constitutional Law And Politics: Bangladesh Perspective.” P-181.
- Liton, S,(2011) Article 70: A tight rein on MPs , The daily Star, March 17, P. 19.
- Chowdhury, M. A(1968). Government and politics in Pakistan, P.193
- http://www.lawyersnjurists.com. 2010. The Lawers and Jurists. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.lawyersnjurists.com/resource/articles-and-assignment/floor-crossing-law-under-bangladesh-constitution/.
 Ahmed, M.(1983) Bangladesh : Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, P.108
 Chowdhury, M. A(1968). Government and politics in Pakistan, P.193
 http://www.lawyersnjurists.com. 2010. The Lawers and Jurists. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.lawyersnjurists.com/resource/articles-and-assignment/floor-crossing-law-under-bangladesh-constitution/.