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Anti-defection Law

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    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    16th Sep, 2022


Recently, eight of the 11 Congress MLAs in the Goa Assembly defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


What is Anti-defection Law?

  • The Anti-Defection Law under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution punishes MPs/ MLAs for defecting from their party by taking away their membership of the legislature.


  • Aaya Ram Gaya Ram was a phrase that became popular in Indian politics after a Haryana MLA Gaya Lal changed his party thrice within the same day in 1967.  
  • The anti-defection law was a response to the similar toppling of multiple state governments by party-hopping MLAs.
  • Parliament added it to the Constitution in 1985. 
    • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection. 
  • It gives the Speaker of the legislature the power to decide the outcome of defection proceedings.
  • It was added to the Constitution through the Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act, 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was PM.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.

Cases consider under the anti-defection law

  • Voluntarily giving up: The first is when a member elected on the ticket of a political party “voluntarily gives up” membership of such a party or votes in the House against the wishes of the party.
    • Such persons lose his seats.
  • Independent members: The second scenario arises when an MP/MLA who has been elected as an independent joins a party later. 
  • Nominated legislators: The law specifies that nominated legislators can join a political party within six months of being appointed to the House, and not after such time.
    • Violation of the law in any of these scenarios can lead to a legislator being penalised for defection. 

International scenario on Anti Defection Law

  • Bangladesh: Article 70 of the Bangladesh Constitution says a member shall vacate his seat if he resigns from or votes against the directions given by his party. 
    • The dispute is referred by the Speaker to the Election Commission.
  • Kenya: Section 40 of the Kenyan Constitution states that a member who resigns from his party has to vacate his seat. 
    • The decision is by the Speaker, and the member may appeal to the High Court.
  • Singapore: Article 46 of the Singapore Constitution says a member must vacate his seat if he resigns, or is expelled from his party. 
    • Article 48 states that Parliament decides on any question relating to the disqualification of a member.
  • South Africa: Section 47 of the South African Constitution provides that a member loses membership of the Parliament if he ceases to be a member of the party that nominated him.

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