Why in News?

The Supreme Court of India has directed the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to expedite the decision on petitions seeking the disqualification of MLAs.

What is Anti – Defection Law?

The Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, also known as the AntiDefection Law, was added by the 52nd Amendment in 1985.It was a response to the toppling of multiple state governments by party-hopping MLAs after the general elections of 1967.It lays down the provisions related to disqualification of members of Parliament (MPs) and State Legislatures on grounds of defection.

It allows a group of MP/MLAs to join (i.e., merge with) another political party without inviting the penalty for defection. And it does not penalise political parties for encouraging or accepting defecting legislators. As per the 1985 Act, a ‘defection’ by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a ‘merger’. But the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, changed this and now at least two-thirds of the members of a party must be in Favour of a “merger” for it to have validity in the eyes of the law.

The decision on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection are referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, which is subject to ‘Judicial review’. However, the law does not provide a timeframe within which the presiding officer has to decide a defection case.

Grounds for Defection:

If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party. If he/she votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party. If any independently elected member joins any political party. If any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.