From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Anti-defection law
Mains level : Read the attached story
An independent MLA from Gujarat is said to have has joined a national political party “in spirit” as he could not formally do so, having been elected as an independent.
What is Anti-defection Law?
- The Anti-Defection Law under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution punishes MPs/ MLAs for defecting from their party by taking away their membership of the legislature.
- It gives the Speaker of the legislature the power to decide the outcome of defection proceedings.
- It was added to the Constitution through the Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act, 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was PM.
- The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
Why in news?
- The anti-defection law specifies the circumstances under which changing of political parties by legislators invites action under the law.
- It includes situations in which an independent MLA, too, joins a party after the election.
Why are independents important?
- Independents give voters better opportunities to express their preferences.
- This can improve political representation, as independents are free from the dictates of a party line, and have the flexibility to represent local preferences in a way that party-affiliated candidates often do not.
Cases consider under the anti-defection law
The law covers three scenarios with respect to shifting of political parties by an MP or an MLA.
(1) Voluntary give-up
- The first is when a member elected on the ticket of a political party “voluntarily gives up” membership of such a party or votes in the House against the wishes of the party.
- Such persons lose his seat.
(2) Independent members
- When a legislator who has won his or her seat as an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
- In both these instances, the legislator loses the seat in the legislature on changing (or joining) a party.
(3) Nominated MPs
- In their case, the law gives them six months to join a political party, after being nominated.
- If they join a party after such time, they stand to lose their seat in the House.
Covering independent members
- In 1969, a committee chaired by Home Minister Y B Chavan examined the issue of defection.
- It observed that after the 1967 general elections, defections changed the political scene in India: 176 of 376 independent legislators later joined a political party.
- However, the committee did not recommend any action against independent legislators.
- A member disagreed with the committee on the issue of independents and wanted them disqualified if they joined a political party.
- In the absence of a recommendation on this issue by the Chavan committee, the initial attempts at creating the anti-defection law (1969, 1973) did not cover independent legislators joining political parties.
- The next legislative attempt, in 1978, allowed independent and nominated legislators to join a political party once.
- But when the Constitution was amended in 1985, independent legislators were prevented from joining a political party and nominated legislators were given six months’ time.
Powers to disqualification
- Under the anti-defection law, the power to decide the disqualification of an MP or MLA rests with the presiding officer of the legislature.
- The law does not specify a time frame in which such a decision has to be made.
- As a result, Speakers of legislatures have sometimes acted very quickly or have delayed the decision for years — and have been accused of political bias in both situations.
Try this easy PYQ:
Which one of the following Schedules of the Constitution of India contains provisions regarding anti-defection?
(a) Second Schedule
(b) Fifth Schedule
(c) Eighth Schedule
(d) Tenth Schedule