The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that “any interested person” can invoke anti-defection law to seek disqualification of a legislator for switching political loyalty. Until now, only a legislator could initiate such a move.
The ruling came on a petition filed by Odisha assembly apeaker challenging a verdict of the state high court which said even a non-legislator can initiate disqualification proceedings against a legislator for deserting the party on whose ticket s/he was elected and joining another political party.
Odisha NCP president Utkal Keshari Parida had approached the speaker seeking disqualification of all four MLAs of his party in Odisha — Amar Prasad Satpathy, Ramachandra Hansdah, Prashant Nanda and Nabin Nanda — after they joined the BJD on June 5, 2012. The HC rejected the speaker’s contention that Parida’s plea was not maintainable as he was not an MLA.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altmas Kabir read down a provision of the Odisha Assembly Rules, 1987, according to which only a legislator could put in motion disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law.
“…otherwise, the very object of the introduction of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution would be rendered meaningless,” the bench, also comprising justice J Chelameswar and justice Vikramajit Sen, said dismissing the speaker’s appeal.
“The provisions of Sub-rules (1) and (2) of Rule 6 of the 1987 Rules have, therefore, to be read down to make it clear that not only a Member of the House, but any person interested, would also be entitled to bring to the notice of the Speaker the fact that a Member of the House had incurred disqualification under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India,” the bench said, adding thereafter the speaker can decide the issue.