ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Anti-defection Law

Towards a Paradigm Shift?

Two recent observations of the Supreme Court have the potential of being a game changer in Indian politics, with regard to the power of the speaker in determining questions of defection resulting in the disqualification of a member of the legislature. These two observations are analysed and their significance in the anti-defection jurisprudence is assessed. The ubiquitous relationship between the anti-defection jurisprudence and the tenets of inner-party democracy needs to be understood, especially against the backdrop of recent political events where significant upheavals have taken place within party set-ups across the political spectrum.


On 23 July 2020, while disposing of a Special Leave Petition in the case of Honble Speaker, Rajasthan Legislative Assembly v Prithviraj Meena, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Arun Mishra had a very interesting interchange with Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Speaker C P Joshi (Rajagopal 2020). The Court raised a pertinent question about whether the voice of dissent of elected legislators gets subverted by the threat of disqualification under the anti-defection provisions contained in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

This case deals with the imbroglio in the Rajasthan assembly when Joshi issued anti-defection notices to 18 members of legislative assembly (MLAs) belonging to the Sachin Pilot-led faction of the Congress party who had carried out a rebellion of sorts against the incumbent Ashok Gehlot government. While the speaker had issued a notice on 14 July to the rebel MLAs asking them to explain their recent conduct and seeking explanations as to whether they should not be held guilty for having violated the provisions of the anti-defection law, the Rajasthan High Court passed a preliminary order asking the speaker to delay his decision on disqualification of the said MLAs at least till the final hearings on a writ petition challenging the speakers notice was disposed of.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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