The Leader of Opposition of the Goa Legislative Assembly recently is set to move a private member's resolution to recommend to the Central government to address the various issues associated with theanti defection law. The Tenth Schedule — popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act — was included in the Constitution via the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985 and sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party. The grounds for disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law are as follows: if an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party. And if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission. As a pre-condition for his disqualification, his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorised person within 15 days of such incident. As per the 1985 Act, a 'defection' by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a 'merger'.
But the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, changed this and now at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of a "merger" for it to have validity in the eyes of the law. The members so disqualified can stand for elections from any political party for a seat in the same House. The decision on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection are referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, which is subject to ‘Judicial review’. Then, due to the 91st constitutional amendment 2004, the anti-defection law created an exception for anti-defection ruling. According to this, if two-thirds of the strength of a party should agree for a ‘merger’ then it will not be counted as a defection. However, the amendment does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead recognises a ‘merger’.
The issues related to anti-defection laws are that, It undermines Representative Democracy: After enactment of the Anti-defection law, the MP or MLA has to follow the party’s direction blindly.This leaves them with no freedom to vote their judgment on any issue and undermines representative democracy. It also Undermines Legislatures: The core role of an elected MLA or MP is to examine and decide on a policy, bills, and budgets. Instead, the MP becomes just another number to be tallied by the party on any vote that it supports or opposes. Then it undermines Parliamentary Democracy: In the parliamentary form, the government is accountable daily through questions and motions and can be removed any time it loses the support of the majority of members of the Lok Sabha. Due to Anti-Defection law, this chain of accountability has been broken by making legislators accountable primarily to the political party. Thus, anti-defection law is acting against the concept of parliamentary democracy. The changes proposed are , One option is that such matters be referred directly to the high court or the Supreme Court for an express judgment - should be given within a period of 60 days. The second option is that if somebody has any difference of opinion with respect to the party or the party leadership, he has the option to resign and seek the fresh mandate of the people. These changes envisage the need for an elected representative to be accountable and responsible towards the people.