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Focus: GS-II Indian Polity, Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

Over 22 Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh had resigned from the Assembly on March 10, bringing the government into a political crisis.

Following the resignation of Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia from the party, 13 MLAs and six Ministers owing allegiance to him, sent their resignations.

What is Defection (Aaya Ram Gaya Ram)?

  • Aaya Ram Gaya Ram (English: Ram has come, Ram has gone) expression in politics of India means the frequent floor-crossing, turncoating, switching parties and political horse trading in the legislature by the elected politicians and political parties.
  • A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership of the House.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
  • The anti-defection law sought to prevent such political defections which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.

Anti-Defection Law

  • 1985 Anti-defection Act was passed in 1985 to prevent such defections.
  • It was included in constitution by Rajiv Gandhi government as the tenth schedule of Indian constitution.
  • The Anti-defection Act, applicable to both Parliament and state assemblies, specifies the process for the Presiding Officer of a legislature (Speaker) to disqualify a legislators on grounds of defection based on a petition by any other member of the House.
  • Legislators can change their party without the risk of disqualification to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of the legislators are in favour of the merger, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.
  • The Supreme Court mandated that in the absence of a formal resignation, the giving up of membership can be determined by the conduct of a legislator, such as publicly expressing opposition to their party or support for another party, engaging in anti-party activities, criticizing the party on public forums on multiple occasions, and attending rallies organised by opposition parties.
  • The Presiding Officer has no time limit to make his decision

Members of Rajya Sabha

  • The Rajya Sabha or the Upper House of Parliament is modeled after the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.
  • The Rajya Sabha currently has 245 members, including 233 elected members and 12 nominated.
  • As per the constitutional limit, the Upper House strength cannot exceed 250.
  • Nominated members of the Rajya Sabha are picked by the President of India.
  • These MPs are luminaries from the world of economics, sports, literature, art, social service etc.
  • The Vice-President is the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, which is the final stop before a bill is sent for presidential assent.

Election of Rajya Sabha Members

  • Feature of Election of Members in Rajya Sabha is taken from South African constitution.
  • Rajya Sabha members are elected indirectly by the people, that is, by the MLAs.
  • How many Rajya Sabha members a state can send depends on its population.
  • Hence, the number of elected seats too changes as states are merged, bifurcated or new ones are created.
  • Every Rajya Sabha MP has a tenure of six years and elections to one-third seats are held every two years.
  • According to Section 154 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, a member chosen to fill a casual vacancy will serve for the remainder of his predecessor’s term of office.
  • Members of a state’s Legislative Assembly vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote (STV) system. Each MLA’s vote is counted only once.
  • In this system, MLAs don’t vote for each seat. If that were the case, then only ruling party representatives would make it through. Instead, the MLAs are given a paper with the names of all candidates. They have to give their order of preference for each candidate, marking 1,2,3… against their names. If 10 or more members choose a candidate as their first choice, he/she gets elected.
  • The political party that has a majority in the state Assembly normally gets to send the maximum number of MPs to the Rajya Sabha.
  • The formula is [(Number of MLAs X 100) / (Vacancies + 1)] + 1.
  • Simply put, every candidate in the race requires one-fourth of the total number of votes plus one to get elected. Each voter ranks his preferences and if the candidate who is the first choice has enough votes already or no chance of being elected, the vote is transferred to the second choice and so on.

Nomination of Members in Rajya Sabha

  • Art.80(1)(a) of Constitution of India makes provision for the nomination of 12 members to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India in accordance with provisions of Arts.80(3).
  • Art.80(3) says that the persons to be nominated as members must be possessing special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following namely : Literature, science, art and social service.

April 2024