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Anti Defection Law, Origin, Provisions, Importance & Challenges

Context:  Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar has said that he needs to decide which actions of the rebel MLAs are illegal or unconstitutional before he can take any further action. He will present his decision to the Supreme Court, which will then decide how to proceed. The delay in deciding the case has led to criticism from the Supreme Court. Last month, the Supreme Court directed Mr Narwekar to spell out the timeline for adjudication of the disqualification petitions.

Anti Defection Law

The 52nd Amendment Act of 1985 added the 10th Schedule to the Indian Constitution, which includes the Anti Defection Law. The subject of forbidding political defections that are spurred on by the prospect of a promotion or other comparable incentives is specifically covered by anti-defection laws. Its goal was to prevent MPs from switching parties, hence maintaining the stability of governments. Rajiv Gandhi proposed the Anti Defection Law.

Anti Defection Law Meaning

The Indian Anti Defection Law, which is a part of Schedule 10 of the Indian Constitution, expels MPs and MLAs who leave their party as punishment. It gives the House of Representatives speaker the power to control the course of defection procedures. The Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act of 1985, which added the law to the Indian Constitution, was passed when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. Both the Parliament and state legislatures are covered under the law.

Anti-Defection Law Origin

The Indian Constitution’s 10th Schedule, which penalizes individual Members of Parliament (MPs)/MLAs who defect from one party to another, serves as an example of the anti-defection law. The phrase “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram” became well-known in the Indian political sphere in 1967 after Gaya Lal, a Haryana MLA, switched parties three times in a single day.

Frequent defections of elected and nominated party members made good governance hard and made it difficult for the state and federal governments to function. The need for an anti-defection measure was critical to preventing similar political resignations.

Therefore, Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at the time, proposed a plan to reduce the risks of desertion. The Constitution was amended to include it by the Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act of 1985. The 52nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution, which took effect in 1985, included and put into effect the Anti Defection Law, also known as the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Anti-Defection Law Provisions

The Indian Constitution’s 10th schedule contains a number of suggestions for new laws. The following are examples of grounds that could lead to the candidates being disqualified-

  • If the elected political party member leaves on their own volition; if the independently elected member is affiliated with any party.
  • If a politician casts a ballot in opposition to his own party.
  • Any candidate who has defected may be disqualified by the Speaker of the House.

Anti-Defection Law Feature

Three situations in which a member of parliament or the legislature switches political parties are covered by India’s anti-defection law:

Voluntary surrender

The first occurs when a representative elected on the platform of a political party “voluntarily” leaves that party or votes in the House against the wishes of that party. These individuals are removed from their seats.

Independent participants

When an independent candidate wins a seat in the legislature and then joins a political party. Every time a legislator joins (or leaves) a political party, their seat in the legislature is forfeited.

MPs who have been nominated

They are legally allowed to join a political party six months after being selected. They risk losing their position in the House if they join a party afterwards.

Anti-Defection Law and 10th Schedule of Indian Constitution

The Anti Defection Law seeks to maintain political stability by punishing officials who switch political parties. Anti-defection legislation also seeks to foster a sense of loyalty and connection among political party members. This is achieved by making sure that MPs chosen on the basis of a political party’s reputation, base of support, and platform uphold that party’s principles.

  • 7th Schedule of Indian Constitution
  • 6th Schedule of Indian Constitution
  • 5th Schedule of Indian Constitution

Anti-Defection Law Challenges

Challenges are also presented by restrictions on politicians’ access to other parties. Look at the issues below for a list of the difficulties with the Anti-Defection Law. By stifling disagreement among party members, it violates the members’ right to freedom of speech and expression.

The member’s ability to serve as a productive legislator is likewise hampered by this law. Restricts switching allegiances, which lowers the accountability of the government. An individual who has a party position as a senator of the parliament is reduced to a simple voting entity in the House of Representatives.

Anti-Defection Law Committees

The Anti-Defection Law has established a number of committees. Review the recommendations made by each committee to better comprehend the law.

Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms (1990): Exemption ought to be restricted to situations wherein a member (a) of one’s accord resigns and departures from his political party, (b) ceases voting or votes in opposition the party whip in a motion of confidence or no-confidence. In the opinion of the Election Commission, the President/Governor should decide on disqualification.

Law Commission (170th Report, 1999): Disqualifying provisions that are protected from mergers and splits should be eliminated. Pre-election electoral fronts should be recognized as political parties under anti-defection legislation. Political parties should reserve the use of whips for emergencies where the safety of the government is at risk.

Election Commission: The President or Governor should follow the Election Commission’s binding advice when making significant decisions outlined in the Tenth Schedule. Defectors should be barred from holding public office or any lucrative political job for the balance of the term. A defector’s vote to overthrow the government should be ruled invalid.

 Haleem Committee (1998): It asked that the phrases “political party” and “voluntarily giving up political party membership” be adequately defined. There will be some limitations put in place, such as maybe forbidding expelled members from taking posts in the government.

Constitution Review Commission (2002): For the balance of their term, the committee proposed prohibiting the defectors from holding any public office or other political post. A defector’s vote to overthrow the government should be deemed invalid.

Anti-Defection Law Importance

The necessity of an anti-defection law drives political party stability. Additionally, it is a means to lessen corruption inside the parties. Additionally, the political parties are urged to unite and prevent defections. It lessens the likelihood of political apathy.

Parliamentarians are encouraged to act in a disciplined manner by anti-defection laws. It promotes political stability by fining and punishing members who leave their political party. Additionally, it encourages political party members to stick with their organizations. Political party divisions and defections have an effect on the nation’s development and governance. As a result, anti-defection law offers a number of advantages.

Anti-Defection Law Amendments

A few changes could improve the Anti-Defection Law and make it better if they were made. The Election Commission of India made a recommendation. It was suggested that the President or the Governor should have the final say on whether to disqualify any member. The presiding officer shouldn’t keep it.

The speaker’s choice is purely based on the feedback he or she receives from the majority of the members of Parliament; it was also recommended that there is a strong need for the development of an independent authority. According to the anti-defection law, political parties must also uphold democracy within the party. If they don’t uphold it among themselves, the rule of democracy can be fully established on the outside.

  • In 2003, the anti-defection law was amended to allow for the merger of political parties. This means that if two or more political parties merge, the elected members of those parties will not be disqualified.
  • In 2019, the anti-defection law was amended to allow for the expulsion of elected members from their political parties. This means that if a political party expels a member, the member will be disqualified from the House.

Anti-Defection Law UPSC

The Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution, or the anti-defection law in India, was enacted to address the perceived issue of instability brought on by democratically elected legislators in India’s Parliamentary System of Government switching allegiances from the parties they supported during the election or disobeying their parties’ decisions during crucial moments, like during voting on an important resolution.

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Anti Defection Law FAQs

What is the anti-defection law?

The anti-defection law was enacted to ensure that a party member does not violate the mandate of the party and in case he does so, he will lose his membership of the House.

What is meant by defection in democracy?

In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state in exchange for allegiance to another, changing sides in a way which is considered illegitimate by the first state.

Who is covered by the anti-defection law?

The anti-defection law applies to all elected members of legislative bodies, including the Parliament of India and the state legislatures. It does not apply to nominated members or independent members.

What are the grounds for disqualification under the anti-defection law?

An elected member of a legislative body can be disqualified under the anti-defection law on the following grounds:
If they voluntarily give up the membership of their political party.
If they vote or abstain from voting in the House contrary to the direction issued by their political party, without obtaining prior permission.
If they join another political party after being elected as an independent candidate.

What is the procedure for disqualification under the anti-defection law?

Any member of the House can file a petition with the Speaker or Chairman of the House seeking the disqualification of another member under the anti-defection law. The Speaker or Chairman will then decide on the petition after giving the respondent member a chance to be heard.

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