91ST AMENDMENT ACT (2003)
The reasons for enacting the 91st Amendment Act (2003) are as follows:
1. Demands have been made from time to time in certain quarters for strengthening and amending the Anti-defection Law as contained in the Tenth Schedule, on the ground that these provisions have not been able to achieve the desired goal of checking defections. The Tenth Schedule has also been criticised on the ground that it allows bulk defections while declaring individual defections as illegal. The provision for exemption from disqualification in case of splits as provided in the Tenth Schedule has, in particular, come under severe criticism on account of its destabilising effect on the Government.
2. The Committee on Electoral Reforms (Dinesh Goswami Committee) in its report of 1990, the Law Commission of India in its 170th Report on “Reform of Electoral Laws” (1999) and the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) in its report of 2002 have, inter alia, recommended omission of the provision of the Tenth Schedule pertaining to exemption from disqualification in case of splits.
3. The NCRWC was also of the view that a defector should be penalised for his action by debarring him from holding any public office as a minister or any other remunerative political post for at least the duration of the remaining term of the existing Legislature or until, the next fresh elections whichever is earlier.
4. The NCRWC has also observed that abnormally large Councils of Ministers were being constituted by various Governments at Centre and states and this practice had to be prohibited by law and that a ceiling on the number of ministers in a state or the Union Government be fixed at the maximum of 10% of the total strength of the popular House of the Legislature.
The 91st Amendment Act of 2003 has made the following provisions to limit the size of Council of Ministers, to debar defectors from holding public offices, and to strengthen the anti-defection law:
1. The total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Central Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha (Article 75).
2. A member of either House of Parliament belonging to any political party who is disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister (Article 75).
3. The total number of ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a state shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total strength of the Legislative Assembly of that state. But, the number of ministers, including the Chief Minister, in a state shall not be less than 12 (Article 164).
4. A member of either House of a state legislature belonging to any political party who is disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister (Article 164).
5. A member of either House of Parliament or either House of a State Legislature belonging to any political party who is disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to hold any remunerative political post. The expression “remunerative political post” means (i) any office under the Central Government or a state government where the salary or remuneration for such office is paid out of the public revenue of the concerned government; or (ii) any office under a body, whether incorporated or not, which is wholly or partially owned by the Central Government or a state government and the salary or remuneration for such office is paid by such body, except where such salary or remuneration paid is compensatory in nature (Article 361-B).
6. The provision of the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) pertaining to exemption from disqualification in case of split by one-third members of legislature party has been deleted. It means that the defectors have no more protection on grounds of splits.