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Current Affairs 2023

Anti-Defection Law - UPSC Current Affairs

The Anti-Defection Law, introduced in 1985, aims to prevent legislators from changing political affiliations during their term, promoting party discipline, and strengthening democracy by deterring personal gain and enforcing party voting.

Jan 23, 2023

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The Anti-Defection Law, also referred to as the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985, was established to prevent elected officials from changing their political affiliations during their term in office. This law was added to the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and applies to both the Parliament and state assemblies. The law aimed to combat the practice of legislators switching parties frequently, which often led to the downfall of state governments.

 

The origins of the Anti-Defection Law can be traced back to 1967, when an MLA from Haryana, Gaya Lal, changed parties multiple times in the same day. This incident prompted the formation of a committee, led by Home Minister Yashwantrao Balwantrao, to address the issue. The committee, known as the Chavan Committee, recommended disqualification for legislators who switched parties for personal gain and a prohibition on contesting elections for a certain period.

 

The law was implemented to discourage defections motivated by the pursuit of office or material benefits, promote party discipline, permit the merger of political parties without disqualifying members, and strengthen the institution of democracy and curb corruption. The Supreme Court has interpreted various provisions of the law, including the phrase "Voluntarily giving up his membership" which has a broader meaning than resignation. Additionally, legislators can be disqualified for "Violation of Instructions" if they vote or abstain from voting against the direction of their political party. A legislator can also be disqualified if they are an independently elected member and join a political party or if they are a nominated member and join any political party after six months of becoming a legislator.

 

The decision of the presiding officer, who decides on the legitimacy of disqualification grounds for defection, is subject to Judicial Review. The Anti-Defection Law has been amended through the 91st Amendment in 2003 to make it more effective in dealing with regular defection, and the provisions that protected legislators in case of a split in the party were removed.

 

In summary, the Anti-Defection Law aims to prevent legislators from changing their political affiliations during their term in office, promote party discipline, permit the merger of political parties without disqualifying members, and strengthen the institution of democracy and curb corruption. Its main objectives are to deter legislators from shifting their political association for personal gain and ensure that legislators vote in favor of the party whip.

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