November 16, 2023
symbolizing the legal focus


The anti-defection law in India is a crucial piece of legislation that aims to prevent elected representatives from switching parties and defecting to another political party. The law, also known as the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, was enacted to address the issue of political instability caused by frequent defections and to ensure the stability of the government. The present article aims to present before the readers, what is anti-defection, why it was added into the Constitution, and what are the major Supreme Court’s pronouncements on anti-defection law.

What is anti-defection?

Anti-defection refers to the practice of elected representatives switching their allegiance from one political party to another, often for personal gain or to secure a position of power. This phenomenon can lead to political instability, as it can result in the collapse of governments and the formation of unstable coalitions. The anti-defection law seeks to prevent this by disqualifying legislators who defect from their party, thus ensuring that they adhere to the party’s ideology and discipline.

 Why Anti-defection law was needed in India?

It is to be noted that anti-defection law was not originally in India. It was incorporated in India after the subsequent amendment. The need for an anti-defection law in India arose from the frequent occurrences of legislators switching parties, which often resulted in the collapse of governments and the formation of unstable coalitions. This not only led to political instability but also raised questions about the integrity and accountability of elected representatives. The anti-defection law was seen as a necessary measure to address these issues and to ensure the stability of the government and the political system.

Constitutional provisions with respect to Anti-Defection law

The anti-defection law is enshrined in the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which was added by the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985. The Tenth Schedule lays down the provisions related to disqualification on the grounds of defection. According to the Tenth Schedule, a member of a House belonging to any political party shall be disqualified for being a member of the House if he

  • Voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party or
  • Votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party.
  • If any independently elected member joins any political party.
  • If any nominated member joins a political party after the expiry of six months.

Exceptions to the Anti-defection Law

 In the following circumstances, a member shall not be disqualified from being a member of the House. The exceptions to the anti-defection law, as laid down in the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, include the following:

1. Merger: If a member’s original political party merges with another party, the member will not be disqualified for defecting to the merged party.

2. Split: If two-thirds of the members of a party decide to form a new political party, the members who decide to join the new party will not be disqualified for defection.

These exceptions are provided to allow for genuine instances of party mergers or splits, where a significant portion of the party’s members are involved, and to prevent disqualification in such cases.

Supreme Court on Anti Defection Law

The Supreme Court of India has played a significant role in interpreting and upholding the anti-defection law. In the landmark case of Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu and Others (1992), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Tenth Schedule and ruled that the Speaker’s decision on disqualification under the anti-defection law is subject to judicial review. The Court held that the Speaker’s decision can be challenged on the grounds of mala fide, perversity, or violation of natural justice.

The Supreme Court also clarified that the decision of the Speaker on disqualification under the anti-defection law is subject to judicial review, and the courts have the authority to examine whether the Speaker’s decision is in accordance with the provisions of the Tenth Schedule and whether it violates any constitutional provisions.

The Court also emphasized the importance of upholding the spirit and purpose of the anti-defection law, which is to curb political defections and ensure stability in the government. It stressed that defections undermine democratic principles and are detrimental to the functioning of parliamentary democracy.

The Supreme Court in the case of G. Vishwanathan v. Speaker of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (1996), further clarified that when a member is expelled from a political party and if he joins any other political party, then also he shall be liable to be disqualified under the law.

Suggestions to Improve the System

The following are some of the suggestions to improve the system

  • The deciding authority on defection should be speaker
  • Establishment of an independent mechanism for the resolution of disputes relating to defection


The anti-defection law in India is a crucial mechanism aimed at preventing elected representatives from switching parties and destabilizing the government. The law, enshrined in the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, seeks to ensure political stability and uphold democratic principles. The constitutional provisions and Supreme Court judgments related to the anti-defection law have further strengthened its implementation and enforcement, emphasizing the need for elected representatives to adhere to party discipline and ideology. Overall, the anti-defection law plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and stability of India’s political system.

Significance of the Topic

The topic is of great relevance for judiciary aspirants because of its contemporary relevance. Defection of members is a major issue in India which needs to be addressed. Therefore, according to judiciary coaching such issues become important not only as a subject of constitutional law but also may be asked in the in the essay portion. Therefore judiciary coaching suggests the topic needs to be prepared with special care.

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