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Anti Defection Law – 10th Schedule of Indian Constitution, Amendment, Provisions

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 20th, 2023

Anti Defection Law features in the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution which was added by the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985. Anti Defection Law particularly addresses the issue of prohibiting political defections motivated by the promise of a promotion or more similar incentives. Its objective was to maintain the stability of governments by dissuading MPs from changing parties. The Anti Defection Law was brought forth by Rajiv Gandhi. The aspirants preparing for the IAS exam must download the Anti Defection Law notes for UPSC exam and kickstart their preparations well for the exam.

The Anti defection law was enacted by Parliament in 1985 to combat the threat of political desertions, building more responsible parliamentarians, inculcating loyalty with which they were aligned back in the time of their election, sustain democracy by preserving political stability, and ensure that the Government’s legislative programs are not imperilled by a traitor turning parliamentarian. The Anti Defection law upgrades Government stability by penalizing the politicians influencing political desertions.

What is Anti Defection Law?

The Anti Defection law in India, which is part of Schedule 10 of the Indian Constitution, penalizes MPs and MLAs who defect from their party by removing them from the legislature.

  • It grants the speaker of the House of Representatives the authority to decide on defection proceedings.
  • When Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, the Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act of 1985 was passed, adding the law to the Constitution of India.
  • The statute applies to both Parliament and state legislatures.

Origin of Anti-Defection Law

The anti-defection law has been illustrated in the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution that punishes individual Members of Parliament (MPs)/MLAs who desert from one party to another. In 1967, Gaya Lal, an MLA from Haryana, changed parties three times in one day, and the expression “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram” was set off widespread in the Indian political scenario.

Good governance became elusive as a result of frequent defections of elected and nominated party members, creating an uncertain climate for the state and federal administrations to function. To combat similar political resignations, it was essential that an anti-defection act was required.

Hence, Rajiv Gandhi, India’s Prime Minister at that time, suggested a proposal to eliminate the dangers of desertion. The Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act of 1985 was used to add it to the Constitution. The Anti Defection Law, also renowned as the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, was incorporated and implemented by the 52nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in the year 1985.

Provisions of Anti-Defection Law

There are certain provisions that have been suggested by the 10th schedule of the Indian Constitution. The candidates can be disqualified on the basis of certain grounds such as-

  • If the member of the political party who has been elected wants to quit on their own wish.
  • The independently elected member associates with any party.
  • If the member of the political party votes against his own party.
  • The Speaker of the House possesses the authority to disqualify any candidate for cases of defection.

Role of the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution

The Anti Defection law tries to keep the government stable by punishing members who change their political party affiliation. Anti-defection legislation also aims to inculcate a sense of belongingness and loyal perspective in their political party and its members. This is accomplished by ensuring that MPs elected for the party’s name, its support, and the party manifesto remain faithful to the political party to which they are related and its policies.

Features of Anti-Defection Law

The Anti-Defection Law in India addresses three scenarios in which a member of parliament or a member of the legislature switches political parties-

Voluntary Give-up

The first is when a member elected on a political party’s ticket “voluntarily” ceases to be a member of that party or votes in the House against the party’s desires. Such people are ejected from their seats.

Independent members

When an independent candidate wins a legislative seat and then enters a political party afterward. In each of these cases, the legislator’s seat in the legislature is forfeited when he or she joins (or leaves) a political party.

Nominated MPs

They have six months after being chosen to join a political party, per the law. If they join a party later than that, they stand to lose their seat in the House.

Exceptions Under Schedule 10

In specific conditions, legislators can switch parties without risking disqualification. The anti-defection law permits any political group to combine with or into another if at least two-thirds of its legislators support the merger. Neither the individuals that are in question who opt to merge nor those who are loyal to the old party will be disqualified in this case.

Any elected Chairman has the option to withdraw from his party and reunite it if he relinquishes his position. Previously, the legislation permitted the splitting of parties, but this is now prohibited.

  • In 1985, ‘merger’ was defined as a ‘defection’ by one-third of the elected representatives pertaining to a political party.
  • Therefore, the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003 presented the amendments, mandating at least two-thirds of a party’s members to support a “merger” in order for it to be legal.

Challenges of Anti-Defection Law

Restriction in the movement of politicians to other parties also poses some challenges. The challenges of the Anti-Defection Law have been listed here, take a look at the under-noted points.

  • It infringes on the members’ entitlement to freedom of speech and freedom of expression by suppressing disagreement among the party’s members.
  • This law also hinders the member’s capacity to be an effective lawmaker.
  • Restricts shifting allegiances, which reduces the government’s accountability.
  • When an individual who is a senator of the parliament receives a party position, he or she is reduced to a simple voting entity in the House of Representatives.

Committees on Anti-Defection Law

Various committees have been established for Anti-Defection Law. Go through the suggestions of each committee for a better understanding of the law.

  • Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms (1990): Exemption ought to be restricted to situations wherein a member (a) of one’s accord resigns and departures from his political party, (b) ceases voting or votes in opposition the party whip in a motion of confidence or no-confidence. In the opinion of the Election Commission, the President/Governor should decide on disqualification.
  • Law Commission (170th Report, 1999): Provisions spared from mergers and splits from getting disqualified ought to be removed. Anti-defection legislation should recognize pre-poll electoral fronts as political parties. Political parties should restrict the utilization of whips to situations in which the government is in jeopardy.
  • Election Commission: Important decisions by the Election Commission in the Tenth Schedule ought to be made by the President/Governor in accordance with the Election Commission’s binding advice. For the remainder of the term, defectors ought to be prevented and restricted from entering a public office or any lucrative political position. A vote to undermine a government cast by a defector should be declared null and void.
  • Haleem Committee(1998): It demanded that the terms “voluntarily giving up political party membership” and “political party” be fully defined. Certain restrictions will be imposed, such as a potential prohibition on expelled members holding government positions.
  • Constitution Review Commission(2002): The committee recommended that the defectors be barred from holding public office or any other political position for the remainder of their tenure. A vote to undermine a government cast by a defector should be declared null and void.

Amendments of Anti-Defection Law

There are certain reforms that if implemented can enhance the Anti-Defection Law and make it better. A suggestion was presented by the Election Commission of India. It suggested that the judgment of disqualifying any member should be rested with the President or the Governor. It ought not to reside with the Presiding Officer. It was also suggested that there is a high need for the establishment of an independent authority, the decision of the speaker is solely based on the opinion received from the majority of the members of Parliament.

Anti-defection law suggested that the political parties must maintain democracy inside the party as well. The rule of democracy can be wholly established on the outer side if they are not following it among themselves.

Importance of Anti-Defection Law

The importance of anti-defection law motivates the stability of the political parties. It is also a way to reduce corruption inside the parties. The political parties are also encouraged to merge together and avoid defection. It mitigates the probability of political desertion.

Anti-defection law also encourages parliamentarians to exhibit disciplined behavior. It penalizes and punishes the members deserting the political parties, hence promoting political stability. It also makes the members of the political parties remain loyal to their parties. The defection and dissertations within the political parties also impact the governance and the development of the country. Hence, anti-defection law presents varied benefits.

Anti-Defection Law UPSC

Anti-Defection Law UPSC topic is a very important part of Indian polity and UPSC Mains GS 2. Several questions have been asked about its significance and history in both UPSC Prelims and mains.

Candidates preparing for the upcoming UPSC Exam must go through the syllabus to ensure all related topics have been covered. Applicants must refer to the Polity books to get a better understanding of the topic.

Anti-Defection Law UPSC Question

Download the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to get a better idea about the kinds of questions asked. The questions asked on the topic Anti Defection Law in UPSC exam have been listed here.

Question: A defection-based disqualification for a Member of Parliament will not apply: (a) If he leaves his political party as a result of a merger with another political party. (b) If he has willingly renounced his political party membership. (c) If he abstains from voting in the house in opposition to the political party’s position. (d)  After six months, a nominated member of the House joins a political party.

Answer: (a)If he leaves his political party as a result of a merger with another political party.

Question: Which of the following statements is correct with reference to the anti-defection law? [a] The law mentions that a nominated legislator is not permitted to associate with any political party within six months of being nominated to the House. [b] The law does not specify any time period within which the presiding officer has to decide a defecation case.

Answer: The law does not mention any time period within which the presiding officer has to decide a defecation case.

Question: What is the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution about? [a] Anti-defection Law [b] Right to Education [c] Right to Privacy [d] Universal Adult Suffrage

Answer: [a] Anti-Defection Law

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