Delay is tantamount to subverting essence of anti-defection law, says Venkaiah Naidu
Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu has, in his order disqualifying senior Janata Dal (U) MPs Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar from the Rajya Sabha, said that issues of disqualification of MPs should be decided by the presiding officers within a period of three months.
Mr. Yadav and Mr. Anwar were disqualified on a specific petition moved by senior JD(U) MP R.C.P. Singh in September 2.
Mr. Naidu in his strongly worded order of disqualification stated, “I am of the considered opinion that such petitions (seeking disqualifications) which go to the root of the democratic functioning and which raise the question, whether a particular legislator is entitled to sit in the legislature or not, should not be kept pending and dragged on by the presiding officer, with a view to save the membership of the persons, who have otherwise incurred disqualification or even to save the government, which enjoys majority only because of such type of persons.”
Voice of majority
He also explained, in the order, as to why the disqualification petition had not been referred to the committee of privileges. He said the procedural requirements of the committee often took a longer time frame for conduct of preliminary enquiry and submission of a final report, a delay which was “tantamount to subverting the essence of the anti-defection law, namely to curb the menace of defection, by allowing a member to continue his membership without facing the consequences of defection.”
In the specific case of Mr. Yadav, Mr. Naidu said in his order that, “in a democracy, it is a rule of the majority and the voice of the majority that will have to be accepted in case of a dispute regarding the leadership of a legislature party/group and Shri Yadav has failed to prove with documentary or other evidence that his group commands majority support within the JD(U) legislature party in the Rajya Sabha.”
He noted that while it was not relevant to his task of ascertaining the facts in the matter of disqualification of Mr. Yadav, the Election Commission of India has recognised the Janata Dal (U) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the rightful claimant to the “arrow” election symbol.
Mr. Yadav’s charge that Mr. Kumar had voluntarily given up the membership of the JD(U) by quitting the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar “had no merit” since the 10th Schedule does not take cognisance of any political alliance made by political parties. To protest the action of their party publicly after the decision has been taken and addressing rallies of rival parties will fall under the purview of anti-party activity, the order said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Yadav said that he got punished for respecting the mandate of the people of Bihar.