Anti-defection Law

Anti defection law

  • Under Tenth Schedule to the Constitution,  member of Parliament or the State legislature incurs disqualification if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of the party or votes or abstains from voting in his legislature, contrary to the direction (whip) of the party.
  • The objective of the landmark anti-defection law of 1985 was to enhance the credibility of the country’s polity by addressing rampant party-hopping by elected representatives for personal and political considerations.
  • While this enactment brought about some order in the system, some politicians found ways of circumventing it over the years.

Disqualification in Rajya Sabha

  • In the present cases, that of Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari, the allegation against the members was that by indulging in anti-party activities they had “voluntarily” given up the membership of their party, namely the JD(U).
  • According to a Supreme Court judgment, “voluntarily giving up the membership of the party” is not synonymous with “resignation”.
  • It could be “implied” in participation of the member in anti-party activities.

Role of presiding officer

  • Further, Rule 7(3) of the Members of Rajya Sabha (Disqualification on Grounds of Defection) Rulesclearly stipulates that a member against whom the petition has been made, has to forward his comments to the chairman within seven days of the receipt of copy of the petition.
  • Rules prescribed by the Rajya Sabha show that the Chairman is required either to proceed to determine the question himself or refer it to the committee of privileges for a preliminary inquiry.
  • But reference to the committee is contingent upon the Chairman satisfying himself that it is necessary or expedient to do so; it is not mandatory.
  • As a matter of fact, in several cases in the past, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, whenever “the circumstances of the case” so warranted, have “determined the question” themselves, without referring it to the committee.

Conclusion

  • The orders of the Chairman have established a benchmark, both in terms of speedy disposal (about three months) as well as the quality of the decisions.
  • VP made it clear that while dissent is a political right, it should be articulated appropriately without striking at the roots of the functioning of the party-based democratic system.

Question for Answer Writing

Q: What are the objectives of the landmark anti-defection law of 1985? Examine on what grounds and how members of Rajya Sabha are disqualified.

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