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Anti-Defection Law- Disqualification of MLAs

Anti-Defection Law- Relevance for UPSC Exam

Anti-Defection Law: Anti-Defection Law is mechanism to use disqualify MPs/MLAs who act against their official party line. Anti-Defection Law is part of UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 (Indian Constitution- Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.)

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Anti-Defection Law in News

  • Recent political crisis in Maharashtra has given rise to the question whether the Shiv Sena rebels can avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law.
  • The invocation of Anti defection law is premised on the ground that these MLAs did not attend the official meeting and did not adhere to the whip.
    • However, a whip is limited only to the business of the legislature.

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Constitutional Provisions Related to Anti-Defection Law

  • 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1985: Introduced Anti-defection Provisions. It provided for disqualification of members of Parliament and state legislatures on the ground of defection. Under the anti-defection law, a member of a legislature can be disqualified-
    • If he or she has voluntarily given up membership of their political party; and
    • If he/she votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by their party (or by any person or authority authorised by the party).
  • Tenth Schedule: 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act also added a new Tenth Schedule containing the details regarding Anti-defection law.
  • 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003: It provided that If two-thirds of the members agree to a merger with another party, they will not be disqualified.
    • It removed the exemption from disqualification if one-third of the members form a separate group (the rule prior to the amendment).
  • Disqualifying Authority: Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly is the final authority when it comes to disqualifying a member under Anti-defection law.

President of India (Article 52-62): Constitutional Provisions, Qualifications and Election of President


Judiciary on Anti-Defection Law

  • Girish Chodankar v Speaker, Goa Legislative Assembly: Bombay High Court held that 10 Congress MLAs and two two MGP MLAs, who had defected to the BJP in 2019, are exempted from disqualification.
    • It held that a merger of this group of Congress MLAs is “deemed to be a merger” of the original political party with the BJP.
  • Rajendra Singh Rana v Swami Prasad Maurya (2007): a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court interpreted the term “voluntarily giving up membership of a political party”.
    • It held that “a person may be said to have voluntarily given up membership of an original party even though he or she has not tendered resignation from membership of the party” and that an inference can be drawn from conduct of the member.

List of Major Constitutional Amendment Acts- Part 1

List of Major Constitutional Amendment Acts- Part 2

List of Major Constitutional Amendment Acts- Part 3

List of Major Constitutional Amendment Acts- Part 3

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