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Anti-Defection Law : Time To Amend Said Vice President

Anti-Defection Law:

The Vice-President has said that the time has come to amend the anti-defection legislation in the country to plug existing loopholes.

  • The anti-defection law punishes individual Members of Parliament (MPs)/MLAs for leaving one party for another.
  • Parliament added it to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule in 1985. Its purpose was to bring stability to governments by discouraging legislators from changing parties.
  • The Tenth Schedule – popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act – was included in the Constitution via the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985.
  • It sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party.
  • It was a response to the toppling of multiple state governments by party-hopping MLAs after the general elections of 1967.
  • However, it allows a group of MP/MLAs to join (i.e., merge with) another political party without inviting the penalty for defection.
  • And it does not penalize political parties for encouraging or accepting defecting legislators.
  • As per the 1985 Act, a ‘defection’ by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a ‘merger’.
  • But the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, changed this and now at least two-thirds of the members of a party must be in Favour of a “merger” for it to have validity in the eyes of the law.
  • The members disqualified under the law can stand for elections from any political party for a seat in the same House.
  • The decision on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection are referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, which is subject to ‘Judicial review’.
  • However, the law does not provide a timeframe within which the presiding officer has to decide a defection case.

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