Tenth Schedule of Indian Constitution – Anti-Defection Law

Tenth Schedule of Indian Constitution: The Anti defection law

The Constitution of the India is regarded as the largest written constitution of the world. It has currently 470 articles and 12 schedules. Originally there were 338 articles and 8 schedules, but due to series of amendments done over past years has brought to such a huge amount of article count. In this article we will discuss about the tenth schedule of the Indian constitution.

Basically, the tenth schedule of the Indian constitution deals with the anti-defection law.  Now the question arises what is the meaning of anti-defection? Before the act is passed in parliament, the elections that are held in India were very disturbing and chaos creating. A member of a certain political party won elections, and after winning the elections he changed his political party. Thus, in the parliament that member went to some other party reducing the seats of the party by which he won the elections. This is known as defection. Defection in short means change in party soon after the elections. By a statistical data, fifty percentage of the four thousand legislators elected to the central and federal elections in the year 1967 and 1971 elections had defected. That led to a great political disturbance in the country. The parliament took decision to remove this defection and bring a peaceful state by bringing a law by which it could ban the members who will change their political parties after the elections. Thus, the anti-defection law came to force. In a country like India, politics is a major emotion for the citizens residing here.  When a citizen cast a vote, he does that in order to see the party he supports, wins the elections. But soon he sees that the member to whom the casted his vote to, has changed his party. Thus, his vote went in vain. Back there were several instances of this type of defections. In the year 1967, a legislator ‘Gaya Lal’ had changed his political party three times in a single day! Between the years 1957 to 1967, Indian National Congress party emerged as the party full of defections. Congress party had lost 98 of its legislators or more accurately 98 of the legislators who contested the elections under the congress party had left the Congress party and 419 legislators, who contested elections under other political parties had joined the Congress party. Between that decade, defection was in its peak level. Looking at this much defections the parliament sought for such a law which could limit these kinds of defections. In the year 1985 by the fifty second amendment had added the tenth schedule bringing the anti-defection bill. And after that, after seeking recommendations from various people and constitutional bodies had amended the act which further more made the law strict. In the year 2003 the anti-defection law added the punishment of disqualifying the defectors and banning them from being the ministers.

When a law is passed in the parliament it has some specific intentions. When this law was passed it also had certain intentions. There were three intentions behind passing this law. They are as follows: –

  • To destroy the political corruption in the country. The parliament saw that the political corruption is the root of every other corruption growing in the country. Thus, by finishing the political corruptions it could lead to the destruction of all the other forms of corruption in the country. According to U.C.Aggarwal, who is the Central Vigilance Officer, the political arena has to be corruption free to motivate other arenas and lower levels to become corruption free too.
  • This law sought to strengthen the democracy and that by bringing stability to it. This ensured that the government projects and programs are not hampered by the defecting legislator.
  • To make the elected members more responsible and loyal towards their party. A legislator contests an election under one party and they cannot change the party after the elections, if done they will prove disloyal to that party. In order to finish this type of instability among the members, this law was passed.

The Chavan committee suggested that the legislators who changes their political party for greed of power and money should not only be removed from being the member of the parliament but also ban them from contesting elections further.

Let us now look at the basic structure of the act that was passed. The act has a total of eight paragraphs. The different paragraphs indicate the features of this act. The paragraphs and the explanations are as follows: –

  1. Paragraph 1 is the interpretation of this act. In this paragraph there are the definitions of the terms used in this specific act.
  2. Paragraph 2 describes the disqualification on the grounds of defection. This particular section of the act defines the factors on which he could be disqualified on the basis of defection from the parliament or the state assembly. Para 2.1(a) provides for disqualification if he/she voluntarily leaves the political party while para 2.1(b) provides for the disqualification if he/she votes or abstains from voting contrary to the party’s decisions. Para 2.2 suggests the disqualification if the member joins any other political party after the election. And para 2.3 states that a nominated member shall be disqualified if he/she joins any other political party after six months from the date he/she takes his/her seat.
  3. Paragraph 3 contains about the disqualifications arising out of the splits with one third majority of the members of the party defects out of that political party.
  4. Paragraph 4 contains disqualification on ground of defection not subjected to merger. This section defines about not being disqualified under grounds of defection if a merger happens between political parties.
  5. Paragraph 5 provides the exemption of this rule for the speaker, chairman and deputy chairman of the legislative houses.
  6. Paragraph 6 makes the chairman or the speaker of that legislative house to be the ultimate authority to make decisions on disqualifications grounds of defection.
  7. Paragraph 7 bars any type of court jurisdiction in the case of disqualification of a member under this schedule. However, this schedule does not bar the judicial intervention regarding to article 32,127 and 226 of the constitution of India.
  8. Paragraph 8 deals with the rules and procedures relating to the disqualification of the defecting members.

This is the basic structure of the anti-defection law. All the relevant requirements and procedure to disqualify is codified in this tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution.

India is a political pool and, in this pool, swims some dirty politicians. They just need power and money. And so, this anti-defection law is very effective in removing these greedy people from this pool of politics.

Author: Sattwik Biswas,
2nd Year BBA LLB under IFIM Law School, Bangalore

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