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SC refuses to revisit 1996 verdict on anti-defection law

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New Delhi: The historic 1996 verdict on the anti-defection law holding that a nominated or elected lawmaker of a political party is bound by its whip even after expulsion, will remain in force as the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to revisit the judgement.

A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi disposed of pleas filed by UP politician Amar Singh, Bollywood actor-turned politician Jaya Prada and Pyarimohan Mohapatra who was expelled from BJD. Amar Singh and Jaya Prada, who were members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively, were expelled by Samajwadi Party. “The petitioner MPs have already completed their tenure.

It would be more appropriate to not answer the question,” the bench, also comprising Justices P C Pant and Arun Mishra, said, adding that their pleas have now become “infructuous”. “Though we have heard the matter at length, we are not answering the question,” it said. Fearing disqualification after expulsion, the petitioners had raised the question whether expelled lawmakers are amenable to the whip of the party on whose ticket they got elected in the light of the 1996 verdict which had held that the 10th Schedule of Constitution does not recognise “unattached” MPs/MLAs.

The expelled lawmakers continue to be the part of the party on whose ticket they get elected, the verdict had said. The apex court was to decide the question whether an expelled member could be disqualified under the law, if he or she defies a party whip. While Singh and Jaya Prada were expelled from SP on February 2, 2010, Mohapatra was driven out of BJD in 2012.

Singh and Jaya Prada had argued that the interpretation of the anti-defection law, as per 1996 ruling in the G Vishwanathan case, does not apply to them as they had neither resigned from the party nor had floated one on their own. The Centre had also submitted that a member elected or nominated by a political party continues to be under its control even after expulsion.

As per the interpretation of the anti-defection law by the Supreme Court in 1996, a member elected or nominated by a political party continues to be under its control even after his or her expulsion. The apex court on November 15, 2010, had directed that no action shall be taken against Amar Singh and Jaya Prada under the anti-defection law in the event of their defying a party whip.

The two leaders had then sought interim stay on any possible action against them in case they decided to vote in favour of Women’s Reservation Bill to which the SP was fiercely opposed. Singh has now returned to SP and was elected to Rajya Sabha recently after being nominated by the party.

Earlier, the two leaders had argued that the anti-defection law could be invoked only against those who either defect from the party or defy its whip while being in the party. However, they had contended that in the case like theirs, they did not defect from the party but were expelled, and as unattached members, they were not amenable to the party’s whip. They felt the apex court’s interpretation of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution impinged upon fundamental rights of the expelled members, including their Rights to Equality, Free Speech and Expression and Life under Articles 14, 19 and 21 respectively.

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