A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking protection from disqualification given to lawmakers under the Anti-Defection Act when their political party merges with another.
Petitioner Meenakshi Menon, a media and marketing professional and founding trustee of the NGO Vanshakti, is seeking the repeal of paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, which exempts lawmakers from disqualification for defection in the event of party mergers . She claimed that this provision was used by politicians for group defections and that voters were betrayed due to these incessant group defections.
The plea also calls for defecting lawmakers to be barred from participating in legislative proceedings or holding constitutional office until their disqualification is legally resolved.
“Relentless group defections in the form of splits and mergers under paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution have become part of the political culture, in complete disregard of the act of betrayal to the voters,” said said the PIL.
Defections in the form of splits and mergers under this provision lead to further alienation of the general public from the electoral process itself, in which trillions of taxpayers’ money are spent without any accountability, did he declare.
Lawyers Ahmed Abdi and Eknath Dhokale mentioned the PIL on Monday before a divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor.
The court ordered the attorneys to first delete the objections raised in the plea by HC’s Registry Department, and then re-state the plea.
The motion sought to have the court declare that legislators or groups of legislators who have defected from the original political party have no right to participate in the business of the House or hold constitutional office until that the question relating to their disqualification is definitively settled.
Menon said the petition was filed against the backdrop of Maharashtra’s June 2022 political crisis, which began when current Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and a large number of Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena MLAs defected. , leading to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). government.
“Recently, Ajit Pawar’s rebellion against his uncle and NCP leader Sharad Pawar bears many similarities to how Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde rebelled against the MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray “, reads the plea.