Anti-Defection Law: PIL In Bombay HC Challenges MP/MLAs Disqualification Protection After Party Mergers


A petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the protection from disqualification granted to lawmakers under the anti-defection law in the case of a political party merger [Meenakshi Menon v. Union of India & Ors.].

Meenakshi Menon, the petitioner, is seeking the striking down of paragraph 4 of the tenth schedule of the Constitution, which exempts lawmakers from disqualification in the event of a party merger. The petitioner also calls for restraining defecting legislators from participating in legislative proceedings or holding constitutional posts until their disqualification is decided by courts.

The petitioner argued that the current form of the anti-defection law neglects the rights of voters who support a candidate from a specific party with a manifesto. The plea highlights that the law lacks a deadline for deciding disqualification proceedings against a legislator. The petitioner further noted that some legislators and parties exploit the law's loopholes, leading to political defection.

The case was mentioned before a division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor for urgent listing. The court directed the petitioner's counsel to address any defects in the plea before re-mentioning the matter.

The petitioner contends that the provision for party splits and mergers needs to be declared ultra vires to the constitution to ensure the accountability of elected representatives. The plea stresses that voters are taken for granted in cases of splits and mergers, and there is no legal recourse for them to take action against the legislator involved.

With the increased politicization of the speaker's role in the legislative house, the petitioner claims that disqualification petitions against members are either indefinitely pending or immediately decided.

The petition underlines, "There was evidence that the law did not fulfill the purpose of bringing a halt to political defection and legitimized mass defection by exempting from its provisions acts that it termed splits."

Author: Anushka Taraniya 

News Writer, MIT ADT University