With a single stroke Punjab and Haryana High Court has unseated eleven legislators belonging to the Unified Akali Dal for violating the anti-defection law. They were held guilty of defecting from the ruling Akali Dal headed by Mr. Surjit Singh Barnala. Out of seventy-three Akali Dal legislators, twenty six had withdrawn their support to Barnala in protest against his action of ordering paramilitary troops into the Golden Temple. It was a protest against Barnala’s willful violation of the solemn oath that he had taken to protect the sanctity of the Golden Temple. Their action was prompted by moral and not unethical and selfish considerations. It did not hold promise of a material or political gain. Rather by alienating themselves from the power nucleus, they stood to lose a lot.

Antireflection law was enacted to stop political horse-trading. It was aimed at arresting the growing trend of defecting for material or political gains. Situation in certain states had so degenerated that there developed an army of Aya Rams and Gaya Rams who could be easily bought by the highest bidder. But the anti-defection law provides for conscientious disagreements. If one third of the total elected members of a political party decide to resign enblock on moral or ideological grounds, then, it is not considered a defection. Since twenty six out of seventy-three disassociated themselves from Barnala’s action on a point of principle and religious obligations, they cannot be described as defectors. After dissociating themselves form the Chief Minister’s role as Delhi’s puppet, they neither formed nor joined a different political party. Their decision reflected the deep resentment that the people of Punjab felt against Barnala and their action was vindicated when Barnala’s nominees lost to their candidates in the S.G.P.C. elections. S.G.P.C. elections demonstrated that Badal group constituted the real Akali Dal. In fact, it was Barnala who had defected to the Congress to retain his position as the Chief Minister. Yet the axe has fallen upon the conscientious objectors while the unprincipled remain undisturbed in their saddles.

The judgment has further exposed the partisan role of the judiciary. Through a careful process of appointing convenient judges the executive in India has gradually completely enslaved the judiciary. Judges are made to pronounce judgments that flout both the letter and the spirit of the constitution. Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment is at sharp variance from the position taken by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court which refused to unseat G.M. Shah and his supporters when they defected from the National conference to form Ministry with the support of the Congress (I). Even though their defection was purely for political power, they were allowed to continue because it suited the Congress (I). But the moral and conscientious dissociation of the eleven Akali Dal legislators has been judged as defection. Obviously judiciary has double standards. The media too has been rendered ineffective through an arbitrary allocation of the newsprint and other controls to gag it into complete subjugation. Publications that dare to speak the truth have to face police action and respected journalists are hauled up on charges of sedition or complicity with mythical antinational elements.

The reports of the Mishra Commission and the Thakkar Commission sufficiently demonstrate the extent of rot that has infected the Indian judiciary. Not a single judgment on controversial issues has gone against the executive. Judges act like Congress (I) functionaries and healthy demo Cratic traditions lie buried under heaps of Machiavillian politics.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 8, 1987