Proposal to review law on defection

The government proposes to review the anti-defection law related to the disqualification of MPs and MLAs on the ground of defections, and wants the President and governors to decide the issue on the advice of the Election Commission instead of the Speakers.

The law ministry proposal is based on the recommendations of the EC, the Constitution Review Commission which was set up by the former NDA government in 2002 and the second administrative reforms commission.

“Currently, the issue of disqualification of members of Parliament or a state legislature concerning defection is decided by the Speaker or the chairperson of the concerned House. All other matters of post-election disqualification are decided by the President/governors on the EC advice,” states the ministry’s background note on electoral reforms.

“Some of the Speakers have tended to act in a partisan manner and without a proper appreciation — deliberate or otherwise — of the relevant provisions of the Constitution,” the note states.

Citing an EC report, the says “all political parties are aware of some of the decisions of hon’ble Speakers, leading to controversies and further litigation in courts”.

Asked whether the government has taken its allies and Opposition parties into confidence on its proposal, which would require an amendment in the constitution, law minister M Veerappa Moily said: “At the moment we are holding regional consultations with the state governments throughout the country and all other steps will automatically follow.”

He said all expert reports analysed by the ministry

recommended that the “issue of disqualification on grounds of defection should be decided by the President/governors concerned under the EC advice, instead of relying on the objectivity of the decision from the Speaker.”

Moily denied that the immediate provocation behind the move was the decision of the Karnataka Speaker to disqualify 16 MLAs, including 11 BJP rebels, who had revolted against the BS Yeddyurappa government in October.

“There are many such instances and the concern over the role of Speakers in deciding disqualification of MLAs in many MLAs is widely known.”


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