Defecting from the Law
Since it changed into inserted into the Constitution, the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India (the “anti-defection law”) has been a topic of massive debate and controversy. It has been partially struck down via the Supreme Court in Kihoto Hollohan v Zachilhu (1992). Yet, the arguments and discussions have led it to be amended once more via the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003. In its 32 years of life, political parties and legislators have come up with creative and inventive methods of warding off the rigors of the law, and it has taken a great deal of litigation, going all the manner as much as the Supreme Court, one not to say the 91st modification, to slash these tries.
However, recent occasions in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh show that the anti-defection law faces a brand new, devastating threat. It comes from the simple refusal of the audio system to carry out their constitutional obligations below the law with the aid of not deciding as to the disqualification of a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) within a reasonable time. This method that an MLA, who has in any other case violated the Tenth Schedule through “defecting” to another political birthday party, will not suffer the legal result of disqualification for such “defection,” however as a substitute will preserve to experience her seat. This correctly renders the anti-defection law inappropriate, with horrible consequences for India’s constitutional democracy.
Until the Constitution (Fifty-Second Amendment) Act, 1985 was surpassed, the Constitution of India did not use the phrase “political party” at all. Even though the Indian Republic has been a multiparty system, following the Westminster form of parliamentary democracy, the Constitution itself appears to be “blind” to the lifestyles and operation of political parties. It isn’t as though India no longer had experience with a restrained form of multiparty democracy before the entering pressure of the Constitution; this was what the Government of India Act, 1935 had enabled. Yet, it turned into most effective with the entering force of the 52nd change to the Constitution, which introduced the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, that the phrases “political party” were used for the first time within the Constitution of India.
The ostensible purpose for introducing the Tenth Schedule became to slash the so-referred to as “aaya-ram-gaya-ram” practices of Indian legislators. The proposal for this moniker is stated to be Gaya Lal, a Haryana MLA who changed events significantly in the area of 1 fortnight in 1967 while keeping his seat as an MLA. Defections after that reached such epidemic proportions that the stability of a few national governments was constantly in question, distracting from any semblance of excellent governance.
The Tenth Schedule changed into supplied as the solution to this issue. But, almost as quickly because it was carried out in diverse legislatures, it was challenged inside the Supreme Court as opposed to the Constitution’s basic shape. By a slender majority of 3 to two, a Constitution Bench held within the Kihoto Hollohan case that the Tenth Schedule was largely valid but read down paragraph 7, which attempted to exclude judicial evaluation of the speaker’s choice on disqualification. The minority judgment (authored by Justice J S Verma) held it to be against democracy, a fundamental feature of the Constitution, elevating some legitimate concerns about the Tenth Schedule, drastically its reliance on the position of the speaker to make an impartial adjudication while the put up truely changed into a partisan one. Subsequent years have proved the minority judgment proper as an audio system has the best turn out to be extra partisan.
One preliminary loophole inside the law, that of defections being legitimate if a party “cut up,” becomes closed through the 91st Amendment Act. Multiple committees over time had endorsed that this loophole, which allowed “bulk defections” while penalizing character defections, be closed. Coupled with the constitutional limit located on the range of ministers in a government, it changed into hope that this would prevent the type of unprincipled defections that the Tenth Schedule had attempted and did not forestall.2 This did now not necessarily paintings as meant.
Disregard for the Law
After the meeting elections in 2014, a troubling scenario has emerged in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the context of the anti-defection law. As of date, 27 legislators are purported to have defected from various parties to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) due to 2014. The speaker, S Madhusudhana Chary, a member of the TRS, has no longer taken any choice at the disqualification petitions filed against these MLAs over these three years. Likewise, in Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in strength has been able to get 21 MLAs from the Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) to disorder to it, without struggling disqualification (Somashekar 2017). Here too, Speaker Kodela Siva Prasada Rao, a member of the TDP, has not decide the disqualification petitions.
The speakers’ inactiveness in each these states is the brand new manifestation of the underlying trouble highlighted by using the minority judgment in the Kihoto Hollohan case—the partisan role of the speaker. In the beyond, speakers’ choices have been challenged earlier than the Supreme Court and excessive courts, and set apart on diverse grounds.3 This new modus operandi to defeat the anti-defection law appears to avoid any viable judicial review.