Headline : What is anti-defection law, why it won’t apply to two MGP MLAs who switched to BJP
- Recently, two of the three MLAs of a Goan political party (MGP) have joined another party (BJP) while also merging their party’s legislative wing.
- Now, as two out of the three MLAs have merged the legislative wing, they are saved from inviting the anti-defection law.
About anti-defection law:
- The anti-defection law was added to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule by the 52nd amendment in 1985.
- The anti-defection law sought to prevent political defections which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.
- It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature, based on a petition by any other member of the House.
Conditions of disqualification under the anti-defection law :
- Political Party members
- If he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or
- Disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote
- Independent Members
- If he / she joined a political party
- Nominated Members
- Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member, as the case might be.
- The anti-defection law makes it mandatory that at least two-thirds of the strength of a party should agree for a ‘merger’ with another political party without getting disqualified under the anti-defection law.
- There will be no disqualification if a person is elected as speaker or chairman, and he resigns from his party.
- The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member. However, if the complaint is against the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the House elected by that House shall take the decision.
Note: The law does not specify a time-period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea.
Why anti-defection law is not applicable in the recent case?
- The total strength of the legislators of the MGP is three members and as two of them merged with BJP, which constitute 2/3rd of the members.
- According to the Tenth Schedule, it requires at least two-third members of a legislature party to form a new political group or ‘merge’ with another political party without getting disqualified under the anti-defection law.
- Thus, the two MGP members cannot be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
- Previously, Tenth Schedule recognised a ‘split’ (from the previous party) if at least one-third members of the legislature party decided to form or join another political party. However, this provision was removed by the 91st amendment to the Constitution in 2003.
- The amendment in January 2004, does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead, it recognises a ‘merger.