In a post-midnight Supreme Court hearing yesterday, the BJP argued that the anti-defection law does not apply to Karnataka's newly-elected legislators if they haven't been sworn in yet. The apex court called this argument "preposterous" and said, "it means open invitation to horse-trading." The Congress argued that the BJP couldn't claim to have majority unless it triggers defections. "As far as swearing-in is concerned, we are not restraining it, but we are making it subject to the outcome of the case," the top court ruled.
Here's an explanation of what Anti-Defection Law is all about:
Aaya Ram Gaya Ram (He came, he left) is a Hindi expression that became popular in Indian politics after a Haryana MLA Gaya Lal changed his party thrice within the same day in 1967. From the Indian National Congress, he switched to the United Front, back to Congress and then within nine hours to United Front again. The tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution, also called the Anti-Defection act, was amended in 1985 to prevent such defections and stop politicians from changing parties for the lure of office.
Under Anti-Defection Act, an elected member of a party can be disqualified on two grounds -
1. If he voluntarily gives up his membership or...
2. He votes or abstains from voting in the House, contrary to his party's direction and without obtaining prior permission.
Another condition is that his abstaining the voting should not be overlooked by his party within 15 days of such incident.
According to the anti-defection law, at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of a 'merger' for it to possess validity in the eyes of the law.
The following, however, will not be considered defections -
1. If a complete political party merges with another political party
2. If a new political party is created by the elected members of one party
3. If the party members don't accept the merger between the two parties and opts to perform as a separate group from the time of such a merger.
Speaker or the chairman of the house is the authority to decide on defection cases.