The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to revisit its 1996 verdict, which ruled that even expelled lawmakers are bound by their party whip, failing which their membership from the Parliament or assembly can be revoked under the anti-defection law.
A three-judge bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi refused to re-examine the legal provisions on petitions filed by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and former party member Jaya Prada.
The order means a lawmaker will be compelled to obey party whip even if he/she has been expelled, else face disqualification under anti-defection law. Even AIADMK’s expelled MP Sasikala will have to follow her party’s whip to avoid disqualification proceedings.
The matter was referred to the bench in 2010 after the duo requested the top court to have a re-look at its own verdict. The SC had given them protection from any action under the anti-defection law.
“We do not want to answer the questions raised before us,” the bench said disposing of the petitions.
The petitioners had completed their Rajya Sabha tenure, it noted.
The bench, however, kept it open for the top court to adjudicate the questions raised in future in an “appropriate matter”.
Enacted during the Rajiv Gandhi government, it aims to ensure political stability and strengthen parliamentary democracy by checking defections.
A senior lawyer, who represented Singh, said: “We argued the case for three days and expected answers from the court.”
Singh, then a Rajya Sabha MP, and Jaya Prada, the then Rampur MP, were expelled from the SP for anti-party activities. They moved SC to preempt action against them for voting for the women’s reservation bill, which Samajwadi Party fiercely opposed.
They wanted the court to clarify if an expelled member could be disqualified under the law, in case s/he chooses to defy a party whip.
The 1996 SC verdict, which the leaders had virtually sought a review of, held that a member elected or nominated by a political party continues to be under its control even after his or her expulsion because they make use of the party name and symbol to contest.
Singh and Jaya Prada’s had contended that the anti-defection law could be evoked only against those who either defected from the party or defied its whip while being in the party. But, in their case, they did not defect from the party but were expelled.