Topic of the Day – Anti-Defection Law

Topic of the Day – Anti-Defection Law

The Anti-defection law was passed by parliament in 1985 and reinforced in 2002. The 52nd Amendment to the Constitution included the 10th Schedule which set out the procedure by which legislators may be disqualified on following grounds:

  • A member of parliament or state legislature was deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily resigned from his party or disobeyed the directives of the party leadership on a vote.
  • When a member abstains vote in the House contrary to any direction of such party.
  • If the independent members join a political party.
  • Nominated members should choose to join a party within six months. After 6 months, they were treated as an independent member or a party member.

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In the year 1985, the 52nd amendment act incorporated the Tenth schedule of the constitution to combat the evil political defections through the Anti-defection law. This law aimed at preventing the frequent shuffle between the parties by the politicians.

Recently the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha disqualified two Janta Dal leaders from the house based on the allegation that indulging in anti party politics, they had “voluntarily” given up their membership of the party (which is not synonymous to resignation as per the Supreme court orders).

Yes, the decision making power with respect to defection resides with the Chairman or Speaker of the respective houses. Chairman or Speaker decides so only if,

  • Person belonging to a party voluntarily gives up his membership or votes/abstains from voting against the directions of the party.
  • Provision also extends to Independent or nominated member like if s/he joins a party after being elected or if s/he joins a party after the duration of 6 months from the date of being nominated to any party respectively.

Several recommendations have come up regarding this issue:

  1. Dinesh Goswami Committee: Recommends that disqualification should be limited to cases like
  • Member voluntarily gives up his membership to his political party.
  • Member voting or abstaining from voting, contrary to party directions.
  1. Law Commission 170th Report:
  • Delete the exemption in case of splits and mergers.
  • Treat the pre-poll electoral fronts as one party under the tenth schedule.
  • Parties should limit the issuance of whips to only critical situations.
  1. Election Commission:
  • Make the President/Governor the decision maker with respect to disqualification subject to a binding advice from the election commission.

To conclude, regulation of tenth schedule along with proper working directives that confirms transparency and accountability in the democracy is the need of the hour. This provision is important on the other hand to maintain stability in the government that would reduce corruption and increase the focus of the parliamentarians/legislators towards governance.

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