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What is a whip?

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

What is a whip?


Congress chief whip in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly has moved the Supreme Court against a State High Court direction to the Speaker to maintain status quo in the disqualification proceedings initiated against ousted MLAs under the anti-defection law.

What’s the issue?

According to chief Whip, the High Court order on July 24 violated a Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in the Kihoto Hollohan of 1992.

  • The verdict had categorically held that courts should not intervene in disqualification proceedings prior to a final decision from the Speaker. Judicial review of disqualification proceedings was very limited.

In this case, the High Court, however, had intervened at the stage of notice in the disqualification action.

What is a 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.

  • 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.

(Note: A whip in parliamentary parlance is also a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way.)

Role of whips:

They try to ensure that their fellow political party legislators attend voting sessions and vote according to their party’s official policy.

 What happens if a whip is disobeyed?

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:

There are three types of whips or instructions issued by the party

  1. One-line whip: Issued to inform members of a party about a vote. It allows a member to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
  2. Two-line whip: Issued to direct the members to be present in the House at the time of voting.
  3. Three-line whip: Issued to members directing them to vote as per the party line.



Prelims Link:

  1. 10th schedule of the Indian constitution is related to?
  2. What is a whip?
  3. Who is a chief whip?
  4. Overview of Supreme Court judgment in Kihoto Hollohan case of 1992.
  5. What happens if a whip is disobeyed?
  6. Limitations of whip.
  7. Types of whips.

Mains Link:

What is a whip? Discuss the roles and functions that a chief whip would play when a government faces no-confidence motion in the lower house? 

Sources: the Hindu.