27 November, 2020
8 Min Read
Anti Defection Law
India’s first Member of Parliament to have been disqualified from the Lok Sabha has now been disqualified as an MLA in Mizoram. Mizoram Assembly Speaker disqualifies Zoram People’s Movement MLA Lalduhoma.
Ground for disqualification:
The disqualification was on the ground that Mr. Lalduhoma had declared himself as a representative of the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) despite being elected as an independent candidate from the Serchhip Assembly constituency.
He lost the character of an independent legislator because of the declaration.
What is the anti-defection law?
The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.
It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House. The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
When can a member be disqualified?
However, Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances:
Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:
The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court.
However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.
Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:
Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms:
Disqualification should be limited to following cases:
Law Commission (170th Report):
Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.
25 June, 2020
6 Min Read
Anti Defection Law
Part of: GS-II- Polity (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Recently, some of the sitting MLAs in the Manipur government defected to the opposition creating instability in the state's polity. This politics of defection in Manipur is not unique, there have been some other recent examples of defection in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
For a very long time, the Indian political system was impacted by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability and chaos in the political system.
Thus, in 1985, to curb the evil of political defections, the 52nd constitution amendment act on anti-defection was passed and the 10th Schedule was added in the Indian Constitution.
However, the recent examples of defection in the Indian polity show that the law needs a relook in order to plug the loopholes and achieve a balance between the rights of legislators and interests of legislative stability.
Subversion of electoral mandates: Defection is the subversion of electoral mandates by legislators who get elected on the ticket of one party but then find it convenient to shift to another, due to the lure of ministerial berths or financial gains.
91st Constitution Amendment Act-2003
Kihota Hollohon vs. Zachilhu (1992)
Against the true spirit of representative democracy: The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. However, this law also enforces a restriction on legislators from voting in line with their conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
In short, if legislators are not able to vote on laws independently, they would not act as an effective check on the government.
The Anti-Defection Law, in effect, dilutes the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature – and centralises power in the hands of the executives.
However, there are many instances when presiding officers play a part with the vested interests of a political party/government in power.
Also, the law does not specify a time period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea.
The decision thus is sometimes based on the whims and fancies of the presiding officer.
What to do?
Though due to anti-defection law, political instability caused by the frequent and unholy change of allegiance on the part of the legislators of our country has been contained to a very great extent, yet there is a need for a more rationalised version of anti-defection laws which will help establish a truly representative democracy.
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