Anti-Defection Law Landmark Cases:

2019 v. Hon. Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly, Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil

In this relatively recent decision, the petitioners contested the Speaker’s order dismissing all of the petitioners for defection and seeking to prevent them from running in elections until the end of that Assembly term. The Hon’ble Supreme Court affirmed the Speaker’s decision to the extent that it resulted in a member’s disqualification, but it threw out the portion that stated that the member could not run for office again, concluding that the Speaker has the authority to do so until the term is through. The Court further ruled that even though both resignation and defection result in the member’s seat becoming vacant, the subsequent effects are different enough that the mere submission of a resignation by a Member while disqualification proceedings against him are still pending will not have an impact on or alter the course of those proceedings. The Honorable Court further sought to make clear that there is a rising pattern of the Speaker acting in a way that is contrary to the constitutional role entrusted to him. It also stated that the corrupt activities connected to defection prevent citizens from having a stable government, thus it is necessary to think about strengthening some parts of the relevant legislation to ensure that such undemocratic behaviors are maintained.

Keisham Meghachandra Singh v. The Hon. Speaker Manipur Legislative Assembly and Others, 2020. (Manipur Legislative Assembly case) Finally, we reach the most recent decision rendered on January 21, 2020, by a three-judge Supreme Court bench presided over by Justice F. Nariman. The case’s circumstances were as follows: The Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly was the subject of petitions for disqualification based on the defection of approximately 13 MLAs, but he took no action and the matter was left open. Due to this, the petitioner filed a writ case with the High Court of Manipur, asking the High Court to issue an order telling the Speaker to determine the disqualification petitions in a reasonable amount of time. The Honorable Court ruled that actions that were supposed to fall outside the scope of judicial review under the Kihoto ruling are only quia timet actions in the sense of injunctions to stop the Speaker from making a decision on the grounds of irreparable consequences. This means that if the Speaker were to decide to disqualify the Member and as a result, if he would face the penalty of losing his membership in the House for an extended period of time, the Court could intervene as such. However, this in no way precludes judicial review, which effectively helps the Speaker make an informed decision about disqualification quickly.

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