SC raps Maharashtra Speaker for ‘disregarding’ court order
Rahul Narwekar, the speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, came under fire on Friday from the Supreme Court for calling the anti-defection proceedings against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other MLAs a “charade.” The court said that Narwekar could not “merrily” postpone hearings and that he must make a decision before the next elections.
What does Defection mean in terms of the parliament?
- When an elected member of a legislative body, such as a member of parliament (MP) or a state legislature, switches parties or political affiliations, it’s referred to as defection in the context of a parliamentary form of government.
- Put differently, it refers to the act of an elected official joining an independent group or leaving their current political party, frequently in opposition to the one they were first elected to.
What are the constitutional ways in which Defection can be prevented?
The Indian Constitution’s Tenth Schedule, which was added by the 52nd Amendment Act in 1985, essentially governs India’s policies regarding the prevention of defection. Often called the “Anti-Defection Law,” this Schedule describes the constitutional means of preventing defection.
What are the key provisions in the Anti defection law?
- Disqualification for voluntarily giving up party membership.
- Disqualification for voting against party directives.
- Disqualification for joining another party after the election.
- Rules for disqualification of nominated members.
- Speaker’s role in deciding disqualification cases.
- Bar on court jurisdiction in disqualification cases.
What is the role of speaker in the preventing Defection?
- Making Disqualification Decisions: One of the Speaker’s main duties is to decide on issues about defection-related disqualification. The Speaker is in charge of considering the facts and arguments put out when a member of the legislative house is accused of defecting and deciding whether to disqualify the member.
- Receiving and Examining Petition: Disqualification petitions submitted by members of the legislature or the relevant political party are received by the speaker. Reviewing these petitions and determining whether they satisfy the requirements for disqualification set down in the anti-defection law—more precisely, in the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution—is the Speaker’s responsibility.
- Conducting Inquiries and Hearings: To obtain data and proof of the purported defection, the Speaker can conduct inquiries and hearings. The Speaker may let the concerned member and any pertinent parties present their cases and submit evidence during these hearings.
- Making a Decision: The Speaker is in charge of deciding whether to disqualify someone after conducting investigations and hearings. The Speaker’s choice is crucial since it establishes whether a lawmaker would be disqualified for defecting or keeping their seat.
What is the role of the Supreme Court in reviewing anti-defection law?
The term ‘voluntary gives up his membership’ refers to a member’s voluntary resignation from their party. The Supreme Court has interpreted this as inferring membership by conduct, rather than a formal resignation. Two JD(U) MPs were disqualified from Rajya Sabha for engaging in anti-party activities, including criticizing the party and attending rallies. The law initially stated that the Presiding Officer’s decision is not subject to judicial review, but the Supreme Court struck down this condition in 1992, allowing appeals in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, judicial intervention may not occur until the Presiding Officer gives his order.
To summarise, the Supreme Court has criticised the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker for not complying with court orders and not carrying out his duties as an unbiased election tribunal in the context of anti-defection proceedings. This has resulted in the proceedings experiencing delays and stagnation. The court has made it clear that it will hold the Speaker responsible and see to it that the disqualification issues are resolved promptly.