Whip in Parliament

Prelims level : Election & Electoral Reforms Mains level : GS-II Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
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Why in News?

  • In a recent Constitution Bench judgment, the Supreme Court held that a country with a multi-party system cannot afford to crack the whip every time a Minister makes an offensive or disparaging statement.

What is Whip?

  • A whip is an official of a political party who acts as the party’s ‘enforcer’ inside the legislative assembly or house of parliament.
  • In India, every major political party appoints a whip who is responsible for the party’s discipline and behaviour on the floor of the House.
  • A whip is an important office-bearer of the party in the Parliament.
  • Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.
  • India inherited the concept of the whip from the British parliamentary system.

Violation of Whip:

  • A legislator may face disqualification proceedings if she/he disobeys the whip of the party unless the number of lawmakers defying the whip is 2/3rds of the party’s strength in the house.
  • Disqualification is decided by the Speaker of the house.

Limitations of Whip:

  • There are some cases such as Presidential elections where whips cannot direct a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) to vote in a particular fashion.

Types of Whips:

  • The One-line whip to inform the members about a vote. It allows a member to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
  • The Two-line whip is issued to direct the members to be present in the House at the time of voting. No special instructions are given on the pattern of voting.
  • The Three-line whip is issued to members directing them to vote as per the party line. It is the strictest of all the whip.

What are the Functions of Whip?

  • The whip plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth and efficient conduct of business on the floor of the House.
  • He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue.
  • He ensures discipline among party members in the House.
  • He identifies the signs of discontent among MPs and informs the respective leaders of their party.
  • He or she acts as a binding force in the party and responsible for maintaining the internal party organisation in the Parliament.
  • Under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) a political party has a constitutional right to issue a whip to its legislators.
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