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Anti-Defection Law

Anti-Defection Law
Highlights

The Chairman or the Speaker of a House may, without prejudice to the provisions of Article 105 or, as the case may be, Article 194, and to any other...

In 1985, Parliament passed a law called “Anti-defection law” which added a new schedule to our Constitution, i.e., Schedule X, which is as follows:- Disqualification on ground of defection. —(1) Subject to the provisions of [Paragraphs 4 and 5], a member of a House belonging to any political party shall be disqualified from being a member of the House—(a) if he has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party ; or (b) if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs or by any person or authority authorised by it in this behalf, without obtaining, in either case, the prior permission of such political party, person or authority and such voting or abstention has not been condoned by such political party, person or authority within fifteen days from the date of such voting or abstention.

Decision on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection: - (1) If any question arises as to whether a member of a House has become subject to disqualification under this Schedule , the question shall be referred for the decision of the Chairman or , as the case may be , the Speaker of such House and his decision shall be final. Bar of jurisdiction of courts:— notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no court shall have any jurisdiction in respect of any matter connected with the disqualification of a member of a House under this Schedule.

The Chairman or the Speaker of a House may, without prejudice to the provisions of Article 105 or, as the case may be, Article 194, and to any other power which he may have under this Constitution direct that any willful contravention by any person of the rules made under this paragraph may be dealt with in the same manner as a breach of privilege of the House.

The Election Commission of India recently clarified that the anti-defection law does not apply to Presidential Elections. The Supreme Court also in a recent order stated that the ruling of the Speaker’s decision is not final, but subject to judicial review. In some cases as in Karnataka in 2011, disqualification of dissident members by the Speaker was annulled by the Court.

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