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Explained: Why anti-defection law won't apply to Goa Congress MLAs

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New Delhi, July 11: To prevent elected representatives from switching sides and penalise them for denting the spirit of democracy, there is something called as Anti-Defection Law in our Constitution.

The crossing over of an elected representative to a party against which he/she contested amounts to betrayal of trust that the people have posed in the candidate. There are many situations when this is likely to happen.

Explained: Why anti-defection law wont apply to Goa Congress MLAs

For example, when there is a hung verdict and one party is just a few seats short of the majority mark needed to form a government, then there are chances that the largest party may try and lure elected MPs/MLAs from other parties to reach the number. This law exists to stop elected representatives from going against the mandate which people have given. But then again, the law cannot prevent mass defections.

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A group of ten Goa Congress MLAs merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress strength in 40-member Goa Assembly was 15 before defection and it would now be reduced to 5.

The anti-defection law, added to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule by the 52nd amendment during Rajiv Gandhi's tenure as the Prime Minister in 1985, makes it mandatory that two-thirds of the strength of a party should agree for a 'merger'.

If the number of defected members are less than two-thirds of the total seats won by their original party, then these rebels would face defection. Also, a legislator can be disqualified under the anti-defection law if he/she either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote.

In case of Goa, Speaker had to give a go-ahead to the merger because the total number of defected MLAs was two-thirds of the Congress MLAs in the state.

Earlier, two of the three Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLAs in Goa joined the BJP and merged the party's legislative wing with the saffron party. Again, as the number was exactly two-thirds, they could not be penalised.

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