Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Powers of Speaker under 10th schedule
What to study?
For Prelims: 10th schedule.
For Mains: Need for a permanent mechanism- challenges and measures.
Context: The Supreme Court has recently held that disqualification petitions under the tenth schedule should be adjudicated by a mechanism outside Parliament or Legislative Assemblies.
What has the court suggested?
The Court has suggested a permanent tribunal headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a former High Court Chief Justice as a new mechanism. This would require an amendment to the Constitution.
The suggestion for devising an independent mechanism to deal with disqualification pleas against lawmakers came in a judgment by which the top court asked the Manipur assembly speaker to decide within four weeks the plea of a Congress leader seeking disqualification of BJP lawmaker and Manipur forest minister Th Shyamkumar.
Need for independent mechanism:
- Currently, disqualification of members of a House/Assembly is referred to the Speaker of the House/Assembly. But, speaker also belongs to a political party.
- The Court held that only swift and impartial disqualification of defectors would give “real teeth” to the Tenth Schedule.
What has the court said on time frame to decide?
The Speakers should decide Tenth Schedule disqualifications within a “reasonable period”. What is ‘reasonable’ would depend on the facts of each case.
The Court held that unless there are “exceptional circumstances”, disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule should be decided by Speakers within three months.
Disqualification under the Tenth Schedule:
The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd amendment to the Constitution.
It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.
According to it, a member of a House belonging to any political party becomes disqualified for being a member of the House, if:
- He voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party; or
- He votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party without obtaining prior permission of such party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days.
- An independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
- A nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
Exceptions to the disqualification on the ground of defection:
- If a member goes out of his party as a result of a merger of the party with another party. A merger takes place when two-thirds of the members of the party have agreed to such merger.
- If a member, after being elected as the presiding officer of the House, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that office.
Sources: the Hindu.