There is no agreement on how the Speaker's powers should be limited (#GS II)

The Indian Constitution's historical underpinnings, history, features, amendments, essential provisions, and basic structure are discussed.

Why is it in the news?

  • The All-India Presiding Officers' Conference (AIPOC) recently concluded without reaching a consensus on whether the Speaker's powers under the Anti-Defection Law should be limited; however, the delegates reaffirmed an earlier resolution that no disruptions should occur during Question Hour or the President's and Governor's addresses to the House.
  • Recommendations: In 2019, the C.P. Joshi committee was established to investigate the Speaker's role in situations of defection under the Constitution's Tenth Schedule.
  • Rather than limiting the power to disqualify MPs and MLAs under the anti-defection statute to the Lok Sabha and assembly speakers, the committee has recommended that political parties be given the same authority.
  • Why A review is necessary since the political context at the time the anti-defection law was enacted had changed, and the statute has to be modified to reflect these changes.
  • Anti-defection legislation: In 1985, the 52nd Amendment Act added the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, widely known as the anti-defection provision.
  • The Amendment's objective was to keep governments stable by deterring MPs and MLAs from switching political parties after being elected on their platform. Changing political allegiances leads in the loss of parliamentary membership and the imposition of a ministerial ban.

A member can be removed out at any time:

If a member:

  • Resigns willingly from his or her political party; or 
  • Votes or does not vote in the legislature against his or her political party's intentions.
  • If the member obtains prior approval or is excused by the party within 15 days of the vote or abstention, he or she will not be disqualified.
  • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election, or if a nominated member joins a political party six months after being elected to the legislature.
  • Legislators, on the other hand, can change parties without risking being disqualified under specific circumstances. Exceptions:
  • If a member of the House is elected as the presiding officer, he will not be disqualified if he voluntarily leaves his party or rejoins it after he leaves that role if at least two-thirds of his lawmakers accept the merger.

The decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

  • The Act originally stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not susceptible to judicial review.
  • The Supreme Court eventually overruled this provision, allowing appeals from the Presiding Officer's decision to the High Court and Supreme Court.
  • It did say, however, that no court involvement is allowed until the Presiding Officer makes his decision.

Does the Presiding Officer have a deadline to make a decision:

The Presiding Officers are not compelled by law to rule on a disqualification plea within a specified period of time.

Preliminary Exam Hot-Link:

  • The names of many anti-defection legislative panels and commissions.
  • Decision of the presiding officer vs. judicial review
  • Mergers vs. splits in political parties
  • Does the anti-defection statute apply to the presiding officer?
  • Supreme Court cases and decisions that are relevant.
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