The provisions of the anti-defection law have stood the test of time and several judicial scrutinies and thus there is no need to amend it as of now, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Responding to a question on whether the anti-defection law in its present form is adequate to stop induced defections, the minister in a written reply said, “Since, the provisions of the Tenth Schedule (popularly called the anti-defection law) have stood the test of time and several judicial scrutinies, there does not appear to be any need for carrying out any amendments as of now.” In response to another query on whether there have been different interpretations of the anti-defection law by the courts, Rijiju said a seven-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, in the Kihoto Hollohon Vs Zachilhu case had upheld the entire provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, except paragraph seven relating to the judiciability of the decisions of Speaker or chairpersons of the legislatures.
“Although, some courts have examined the provisions in the past, no specific directions have been given for amendments,” he said. The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution provides for the prevention of defection of the elected and nominated members from their political party and contains stringent provisions for curbing the menace of switching over of legislators. The recent political developments in Maharashtra and Goa have brought the focus back on the law. The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in Maharashtra collapsed on June 29 following a rebellion by Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and most of the party MLAs.
No consensus on amending the anti-defection law was reached at a meeting of presiding officers here last week chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who said constitution experts, legal scholars and other stakeholders will be consulted on the matter. There were two divergent views among the members of a committee constituted to examine the law, with the majority in favour of giving more power to the Chair, while the minority view was the power should be with the president of the political party. Birla had constituted the three-member committee under Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi in 2019 after a lot of deliberation to review and amend the anti-defection law.