Role of whip in state Assembly or Parliament


    In News

    • The Supreme Court recently observed that the Members of a House are bound by the ‘whip’, and if any section of MLAs within a political party that is part of a ruling coalition says it does not want to go with the alliance, the MLAs will attract disqualification.

    What is Whip?

    • In parliamentary parlance, a whip may refer to both a written order to members of a party in the House to abide by a certain direction and to a designated official of the party who is authorized to issue such a direction.
    • Political parties issue whips to their MPs to either vote for or against the bill, depending on their party line. Once the whip is issued, the MPs from each party will necessarily have to obey the whip or else risk losing their seat in Parliament.
    • The term is derived from the old British practice of “whipping in” lawmakers to follow the party line.
    • 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.

    Importance of a whip 

    • The whip is an official appointed to maintain discipline among, secure attendance of, and give necessary information to, members of his party.
    • They are expected to be a channel of communication between the political party and the members of the party in the legislature. 
    • They also serve the function of gauging the opinion of the members, and communicating it to party leaders. 

    Whips in Other Democracies

    • In the US, the party whip’s role is to gauge how many legislators are in support of a bill and how many are opposed to it — and to the extent possible, persuade them to vote according to the party line on the issue.
    • In the UK, the violation of a three-line whip is taken seriously — occasionally resulting in the expulsion of the member from the party. Such a member can continue in Parliament as an independent until the party admits the member back into the party. 

    Anti Defection Law

    • The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the anti-defection law, was added to prevent political defections.
    • Disqualification on ground of defection: A legislator belonging to a political party will be disqualified if he
      • (i) voluntarily gives up his party membership, or 
      • (ii) votes/abstains to vote in the House contrary to the direction issued by his political party. 
      • A member is not disqualified if he has taken prior permission of his party, or if the voting or abstention is condoned by the party within 15 days. 
      • Independent members will be disqualified if they join a political party after getting elected to the House. 
      • Nominated members will be disqualified if they join any political party six months after getting nominated.
    • Exemptions in cases of merger: Members are exempted from such disqualification when at least two thirds of the original political party merges with another political party. 
      • Further: (i) the members must have become members of the party they have merged with/into, or (ii) they should have not accepted the merger and choose to function as a separate group.
    • Decision making authority: The decision to disqualify a member from the House rests with the Chairman/Speaker of the House.