Published On: Thu, Jan 7th, 2021
India | ByIANS

Plea to debar defectors from poll fray for six years in SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking directions to debar defectors, disqualified as members of any legislature under the Constitution’s Tenth Schedule, for a period of six years and ban them from holding any public office up to six years.

This is a new type of corruption, which is defeating the object of the 10th Schedule

The petition filed by Congress’ Madhya Pradesh leader Jaya Thakur, through advocate Varinder Kumar Sharma, sought implementation of the recommendation of the National Law Commission to review the working of the Constitution about the amendment of “Tenth Schedule of the Constitution”.

The plea contended the Tenth Schedule should be amended specifically to provide that all persons defecting – whether individually or in groups – from the party or the alliance of parties, on whose ticket they had been elected, must resign from their parliamentary or assembly seats and must contest fresh elections.

“The defectors should also be debarred to hold any public office of a minister or any other remunerative political post for at least the duration of the remaining term of the existing legislature or until, the next fresh elections whichever is earlier. The vote cast by a defector to topple a government should be treated as invalid,” said the plea.

The petitioner has argued that the power to decide disqualification on ground of defection should vest in the Election Commission, instead of the Speaker of the House concerned.

The plea contended that a legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. “This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership of the House. The law applies to both Parliament and state Assembly,” said the plea.

The petitioner also cited the several incidents – Manipur, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh — where ruling party MLAs resign from the House leading to the fall of the government. Later, they are awarded with ministerial posts by the new government and also given tickets to re-contest for by-elections, which renders Tenth Schedule provisions redundant.

“This is a new type of corruption, which is defeating the object of the 10th Schedule. The object of 10th Schedule was to curb the evil of political defections motivated by lure of office or other similar consideration which endanger the foundations of our democracy,” it said.

The plea urged the top court to issue directions to the poll panels to debar the defectors for a period of six years, from the date of their resignation from the Assembly or Parliament seat.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian on Thursday issued notice, returnable in four weeks, in the matter.

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