As the political crisis unfolded in Maharashtra, threatening the stability of the Uddhav Thackeray government, debate erupted over the legitimacy of MLAs switching to the Eknath Shinde-led rebel side. Hectic talks took place on Wednesday when senior leaders of the MVA government met to end the crisis, but Shinde appeared firm on his stand as he camped in Guwahati and claimed the support of over 40 MLAs.
Amidst the war of words, News18 takes a look at the anti-defection law and what it means for Shinde & Co:
What is Anti-Defection Law?
Law is a tool that penalizes individual MPs/MLAs for leaving one party and joining another. However, a group of MPs/MLAs can join (merge) with another political party without inviting penalty for defection. Also, it does not penalize parties for encouraging or accepting defecting legislators.
The purpose of the anti-defection law was to ensure that governments run smoothly and steadily by discouraging legislators from changing parties. This was followed by the toppling of several state governments after the 1967 general elections.
The provisions were added to the Constitution in the form of the Tenth Schedule in 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister.
How is defection decided?
The law allows for three types of scenarios.
The first occurs when legislators, who are elected on a party ticket, “voluntarily give up membership” or defy the party whip.
Originally, the Tenth Schedule contained a provision for the disqualification of legislators in cases where less than 1/3 of the party’s total strength had broken out, or where less than 2/3 of the legislators of one legislature party were in another political party. was merged. After an amendment in 2003, the one-third division provision was dropped.
In the second case, a debate can start when an MP/MLA elected as an independent member of the House moves ahead and joins a party.
The third scenario pertains to nominated MLAs in which the law is clear that they can join a political party within six months of being appointed to the House and not after that time.
Violation of these three scenarios can lead to the imposition of fines under the anti-defection law and the decision-makers in such cases are the presiding officers of the legislature (the Speaker, the Speaker). However, according to the Supreme Court, legislators can challenge the decisions of the presiding officers before the higher judiciary.
Has the law suppressed the rebellion and brought more stability?
Though the intention behind the law was noble, it has failed to serve the purpose for which it was brought. Instead, it has given rise to a new political concept called “resort politics”, in which parties take their legislators to resorts to stop horses. -Business. Recent examples are Rajasthan (2020), Maharashtra (2019), Karnataka (2019 and 2018), and Tamil Nadu (2017). In the latest situation, Shinde’s MLAs were taken to Surat in Gujarat and then to Assam.
But this does not mean that the parties have not used the law to their advantage. In Goa in 2019, 10 out of 15 Congress MLAs merged their legislature party with the BJP. In the same year, six BSP MLAs in Rajasthan merged their party with the Congress and 10 out of 15 Sikkim Democratic Front MLAs in Sikkim joined the BJP.
Any suggestions to improve the law?
The judgment of Justice Rohinton Nariman in the 2020 Keesham Meghchandra Singh vs Hon’ble Speaker Manipur case has been crucial to the anti-defection law, where Justice Nariman sought to establish an external mechanism to deal with cases of defection.
Former Vice President Hamid Ansari has suggested that it should be implemented only to protect governments in no-confidence motion.
According to the Election Commission, the body should be the adjudicating authority in anti-defection cases to avoid complaints of bias.
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