Anti-defection law: Final call at Speakers’ conference, says Om Birla

The conference will also discuss steps to maintain discipline and decorum in all legislative houses, he said
Last Updated : 25 September 2021, 13:50 IST

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A presiding officers’ conference scheduled to be held in Shimla next month will arrive at a decision on the changes needed to the anti-defection law, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said Saturday.

The conference will also discuss steps to maintain discipline and decorum in all legislative houses, he said.

Addressing a news conference at Vidhana Soudha, Birla said a committee that was constituted to review the powers of the Speaker with respect to the anti-defection law had submitted its report. “The report will be placed in the Shimla conference. If it is adopted, we will ask the government to revisit the law and what needs to be changed,” he said.

Legislators can be disqualified under the anti-defection law (10th Schedule of the Constitution) for anti-party activities. In 2019, 17 MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) coalition were disqualified for defecting to the BJP.

“Some presiding officers have expressed that Speakers should not enjoy unlimited power when it comes to the anti-defection law and that they should work within a framework in which disqualification petitions are disposed of within a stipulated time,” Birla said.

The three-day Shimla conference will start on October 26. This will mark the centenary of the first one that was held also at Shimla.

Birla expressed concern over declining standards of parliamentary proceedings. “Protests in the well, disruption...these are matters of concern. From time to time the presiding officers, chief ministers, law ministers and floor leaders discuss measures to maintain decorum. We will discuss this also at the conference,” he said.

“It’s a collective responsibility of the ruling party, the Opposition and all members to ensure there’s debate and no disturbance. We need to create a conducive atmosphere where there’s quality debate on Bills and burning issues,” he said.

The conference will also formulate 75 programmes to strengthen democratic institutions on the occasion of India's 75th year of independence. "These 75 programmes will include panchayats and the Parliament," Birla said.

Common platform

Birla said the Parliament library will be linked with all state assemblies so that lawmakers get a common platform to access debates and discussions. “Over the next six months, we’re trying to create a database of all debates and discussions in Hindi and English by name and subject. Members can access, say, budget debates that happened in one state,” Birla said, adding that this is one of the many capacity-building measures being taken for lawmakers.

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Published 25 September 2021, 13:50 IST

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