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Tenth Schedule and Anti-Defection Act

Context:  Maharashtra is in the throes of a constitutional crisis. 

The Tenth Schedule, popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act, was included in the Indian Constitution by the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985. It sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party. 

Grounds of Disqualification:  

  • If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party
  • If s/he abstains or votes from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission
  • If any independently elected member joins any political party
  • If any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months

Exception for Anti-Defection: Due to the 91st amendment, the anti-defection law created an exception for anti-defection rulings. However, the amendment does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead recognises a ‘merger’. As per the 1985 Act, defection by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a merger. But the 91st CA Act, 2003 changed this, and now at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of a merger to have validity in the eyes of the law.

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