Having refused to vacate the ‘throne’ for his former mentor Nitish Kumar, beleaguered Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi faces a catch-22 situation.
Despite his expulsion from JD(U), Manjhi would be compelled to vote against himself during the floor test or lose his seat, if the party issues a whip to its MLAs.
The peculiar situation has been created due to the anti-defection law, which says even if a member is expelled from his/her party, for the purposes of the Tenth Schedule (ie anti-defection law), he/she would not cease to be a member of the political party that had set him/her up as a candidate for the election. The member would continue to remain attached to that political party even if he/she is declared as ‘unattached’.
According to the anti-defection law, a member can be expelled from Parliament or a state assembly if he/she acts in violation of the command issued by the party on whose ticket he/she was elected.
The seemingly anomalous legal position was upheld by the Supreme Court in G Viswanathan vs Speaker Tamil Nadu legislative assembly in 1996 and the ruling continues to hold the field.
This is due to the explanation to paragraph 2(1) of the Tenth Schedule which says, “An elected member of a House shall be deemed to belong to the political party, if any, by which he was set up as a candidate for election as such member...”
Following their expulsion from Samajwadi Party, then Rajya Sabha MPs Amar Singh and Jaya Prada had moved the Supreme Court, complaining against the peculiar situation created by the law that forced them to follow the diktats of the party they were expelled from.
While protecting their seats, the Supreme Court had in 2010 referred the issue to a constitution bench, which is yet to clarify the legal position. The decision in G Viswanathan’s case merited another look, the SC had said. Otherwise, they would be left completely vulnerable to the whims and fancies of the leaders of the parties they were expelled from, it added.