SC discover to Centre, EC on plea to debar defecting lawmakers from contesting by-poll

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 7

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission in a petition seeking to debar lawmakers disqualified under anti-defection law from contesting by-elections during the term of the House to which they were originally elected.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the Centre and the poll panel to respond in four weeks to the petition filed by Jaya Thakur, a Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh, demanded implementation of Article 191(1)(e) read with para 2 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution i.e. the anti-defection law.

“Once a member of the House incurs disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, he cannot be permitted to contest again during the term for which he was elected. Article 172 makes a membership of a House co-terminus with the term of 5 years of the House except in circumstances mentioned therein,” Thakur submitted.

A member of the House who voluntarily gave up the membership of a political party also came under the preview of the Tenth Schedule and was, hence, amenable to disqualification under Article 191(1) (e) of the Constitution, the petitioner contended.

She contended that the recent trend of political defections rendered the Tenth Schedule redundant by making ruling party MLAs resign from the House leading to collapse of the government. Such MLAs were then made ministers by the new government and given tickets to re-contest by-elections.

Accusing political parties of indulging in horse trading and corrupt practices in various states including Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, and Karnataka, Thakur said citizens were denied a stable government and such undemocratic practices needed to be curbed.

Once the anti-defection law came into play and a seat fell vacant due to disqualification, the disqualified legislator incurred disability under Article 191(1)(e) and such a lawmaker should be debarred from being elected again during the term for which he/she was elected to the House, she submitted.

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