The V. Narayanasamy-led government in Puducherry collapsed on the floor of the Assembly on Monday.
- Congress-DMK coalition lost majority due to resignations of MLAs.
- With the resignation of the government, the strength of the Assembly is 15.
- In the past few years, open revolt against a chief minister followed by resignation of MLAs has been a common route to bring down State governments while escaping the provisions of the anti-defection law.
The Anti-Defection Law
- It was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution, which added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.
- The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections”.
- Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2) deal with anti-defection.
- The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
What are the conditions for disqualification
- If a member of a house belonging to a political party: -
- Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
- Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
- If an independent candidate who is not aligned to any political party, joins a political party after the election.
- If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
- The decision on the question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of the House.
Who has the power to disqualify?
- The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member and his decision is final.
- If a complaint is received with respect to the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the House elected by that House shall take the decision.
Split and merger under anti-defection law
- The 91st amendment to the Constitution in 2003, does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party.
- Instead, it recognises a ‘merger’ that requires at least two-thirds of the members of a legislature party to join another political formation or form a new one without getting disqualified under the anti-defection law.
Is there any time period for the presiding officer to decide on a disqualification plea?
- No. Given that courts can intervene only after the Presiding Officer has decided on the matter, the petitioner seeking disqualification has no option but to wait for this decision to be made.