What is anti-defection law?
- Anti-defection law entered the Indian statute books in 1985
- The law constituted the tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution
- The law is meant to stifle political corruption and ensure stable government
The anti-defection law, which made its way into Indian statute books through the 52nd amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1985, seeks to counter the “evil of political defections.” The law, which added the tenth schedule to the Indian Constitution sought to end the ‘ayaram-gayaram’ culture which had become a part of Indian politics wherein MLAs would join one party after another just to stay in power.
Features of anti-defection law
The anti-defection law deals with elected members to Parliament and legislative assemblies and pertains to their changing political groupings after being elected on either a party ticket or as an independent candidate. The law, which has often criticised for being too stringent, aims to stop political defections.
Disqualification: A member of Parliament or a state legislative assembly can be disqualified from membership if they voluntarily give up their political party or votes contrary to the directive of their political party in the House or abstains from voting.
Exception: The exception to the anti-defection law kicks in when two-thirds of MPs or MLAs of a political party have either decided to create a separate unit or become a new political party. The key factor in case of exceptions is that two-thirds of members have to agree to defect for the anti-defection law to not kick in.
Criticism of anti-defection law
Since the adoption of the anti-defection law at a time when political defections were passe in Indian politics, political observers have found that the law often stifles the freedom of legislators to vote “their conscience”. Critics say the role of a legislator is to vote independently in the House keeping the interests of his constituency in mind.
However, votaries of the anti-defection law say that the law has helped in curbing political bribery and corruption and ensures stability of government.