Abhishek Manu Singhvi writes: Why the legal architecture of defection must be reimagined

Syllabus: GS-II, Subject: Polity, Topic: Legislature, Issue: 10th Schedule

Tenth Schedule (Anti-defection law) key issues:

  • The implementation of 10th Schedule highlights the gap between principles and practice in Indian politics.
  • The Supreme Court has provided clear guidelines on disqualifications under the anti-defection law.
  • However, many potential defectors exploit loopholes and use delay tactics such as:
  • Pre-defection applications to the Election Commission claiming to be the real party.
  • Expressing no confidence in the Speaker before defecting.
  • Speaker’s party affiliation often influences their decisions on disqualification petitions, leading to delays and biased outcomes.

     The way ahead

  • The public is disillusioned with such political maneuvering, leading to calls for abolishing the 10th
  • Suggestions include mandating resignation for party switchers, barring them from ministerial positions without re-election, and reforming the Speaker’s role.
  • Establishing a non-partisan convention for Speaker selection.
One mark extra for mains ( SC clarification on Tenth Schedule in various cases)
Case Judgment
Manipur Judgment Three months is the ideal time limit for Speakers to decide disqualification petitions.
Kihoto Hollohon Case Speaker’s order subject to judicial review; 10th Schedule not an unreasonable restriction on free speech.
Ravi Naik Case Voluntary giving up of membership inferred from various forms of conduct, not limited to resignation.
Vishwanathan Case Expelled member continues as unattached member unless joining a new party doesn’t attract anti-defection law.
Naik and Patil Case Speaker can shorten notice period for disqualification, even down to two or three days.
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