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What is Anti-Defection Law? - Important Points for Civil Services Examination

So before understanding Anti-Defection Law. let us first understand what each word separately means.

General understanding of the concept:

Defection: the act of leaving a country, political party, etc. to go to another one

So defection happens when one party member leaves his current political party to go to another party. There may be several reasons for such an act.

Anti: opposed to; against.

So when we combine Anti-Defection it means to prevent defection ("against defection") and a law made to facilitate this is called Anti-Defection law. Under this MP’s & MLA’s are disqualified when they perform such defections.

The law was introduced to prevent defections after a famous incident of "Aya Ram Gaya Ram". The term was coined when Gaya Lal, a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Hodal in Haryana, won elections as an independent candidate in 1967 and joined the INC, and thereafter he changed parties thrice in a fortnight, first by politically defecting from the INC to the United Front, then counter defecting back to INC, and then again counter defecting back to United Front within nine hours.

Important Points :

  1. It was introduced by 52nd Amendment Act 1985.It was included in constitution by Rajiv Gandhi government as the tenth schedule of Indian constitution.

  2. It deals with disqualification of the MP’s & MLA’s on the ground of defection from one political party to another.

Conditions for Disqualifications :

  1. Members of Political Parties: (a) if he voluntarily gives 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 his political party without obtaining prior permission of such party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days.

  2. Independent Members: if he joins any political party after such election

  3. Nominated Members: if he joins any political party after the expiry of six months from the date on which he takes his seat in the House.

Exceptions: Certain cases are exempted from being considered as Defection. These are :

  1. If a member goes out of his party as a result of a merger of the party with another party. A merger takes place when 2/3rd of the members of the party have agreed to such merger

  2. If a member, after being elected as the presiding officer of the House, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or re-joins it after he ceases to hold that office. This exemption has been provided in view of the dignity and impartiality of this office.

91st Amendment Act of 2003: Omitted the exception of “disqualification on ground of defection not to apply in case of split by one-third members of legislature party ”. So now if there is a split by 1/3rd members of legislature party, it is considered defection.

Who decides the cases of Defection?

Presiding officer of the House is the deciding authority. ie. Speaker in case of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly and Chairman in case of Rajya Sabha and Legislative council

It's important to note here that the presiding officer can take up a defection case only when he receives a complaint from a member of the House

Advantages of Anti-Defection Law:

  1. It provides for greater stability in the body politic by checking the propensity of legislators to change parties.

  2. It facilitates democratic realignment of parties in the legislature by way of merger of parties.

  3. It reduces corruption at the political level as well as non- developmental expenditure incurred on irregular elections.

  4. It gives, for the first time, a clear-cut constitutional recognition to the existence of political parties.

Criticism of Anti-Defection Law:

  1. It does not make a differentiation between dissent and defection

  2. Its distinction between individual defection and group defection is irrational.

  3. It does not provide for the expulsion of a legislator from his party for his activities outside the legislature.

  4. Its discrimination between an independent member and a nominated member is illogical

  5. Its vesting of decision-making authority in the presiding officer is criticised on two grounds. (a) Impartiality as he is a member of a party and might favour that side. (b) He lacks the legal knowledge and experience to adjudicate upon the cases

So that was all about Anti-Defection Law and important points that you need to remember for UPSC exam.

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