The MLAs who vote against their party whip cannot face disqualification from the membership of the House under the anti-defection law, the Supreme Court has ruled. This will apply to instances where members elect state representatives to the Rajya Sabha, but not to legislative proceedings like passing a bill.
The ruling was recently made by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, which upheld the amendments to electoral laws that did away with secret ballots and domicile requirement for Rajya Sabha elections.
“An elected MLA would not face any disqualification from the membership of the House for voting in a particular manner. He may at the most attract action from the political party to which he belongs," the bench held in its 317-page judgment.
The court drew a distinction between an elected MLA exercising franchise in his/her capacity as a member of an electoral college and legislative proceedings.
The bench said "the proceedings concerning election under Article 80 are not proceedings of the 'House of the Legislature of State' within the meaning of Article 194" of the Constitution.
It said, "It is the elected members the Legislative Assembly who constitute, under Article 80 Electoral College for electing the representatives of the State to fill the seat allocated to that State in the Council of States.”
"It is noteworthy that it is not the entire Legislative Assembly that becomes the Electoral College but only the specified category of members thereof," the bench said.