Somnath Chatterjee for total ban on defections

September 23rd, 2008 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeChandigarh, Sep 23 (IANS) Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Tuesday called for a total ban on political defections and said that judicial scrutiny of decisions taken by presiding officers of legislatures was not desirable.Chatterjee said that provisions of the law should be such that persons who indulge in defections should not be seen as being rewarded for their actions.

“Defections motivated by power and opportunism continue to be one of the debilitating features of our political system. There has to be a concerted effort to see that political defections are totally banned or at least are not rewarded. Such defections lead to political instability,” he said during a debate on ‘Anti-Defection Law: need for review’ at the 73rd Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India at the Haryana assembly complex here.

On the powers of presiding officers, Chatterjee said: “To my mind, the exercise of power and jurisdiction by the Presiding Officer of any house should not be subjected to such scrutiny, which considerably affects the status and the position of the presiding officers.”

“With all respect to the judiciary, whose jurisdiction cannot be denied, it will be fit and proper and indeed, to my mind, desirable that the presiding officers do not continue to be under such judicial scrutiny which in many cases has given rise to, in my opinion, avoidable tension between the two constitutional authorities,” Chatterjee candidly put it.

He suggested that the jurisdiction and authority to deal with matters of defection, as provided in the Tenth Schedule, need not be exercised by the Presiding Officers and the power should be conferred on some other authority like a special tribunal comprising people well-versed in law or on an authority like the Election Commission.

He said that political defections and splits in parties had become a regular feature of Indian politics for several decades. It was after painstaking endeavours spread over almost a period of two decades that the Anti-defection law came into being in 1985.

“Today, even 23 years after coming into force of the Anti-Defection Law, the concern still remains,” he added.

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