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The Supreme Court today referred to a larger bench the issue whether a lawmaker is bound by the party whip even after his or her expulsion.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Rajya Sabha MP and expelled Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh, who has sought to declare that the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution relating to disqualification on ground of defection do not apply to an elected member of a House who has been expelled by the party.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar referred to an earlier plea filed by Singh in which the court had refused to revisit the historic 1996 verdict on the anti- defection law which had held that a nominated or elected lawmaker of a political party is bound by its whip even after expulsion.
The bench said while dealing with that case, the two judge bench had referred the matter to a larger bench and framed certain questions, including "What is the status in either House of Parliament or the state legislatures of a member who is expelled from the party which set him/her up as a candidate for election".
The matter was then heard by a three-judge bench which had disposed of the plea while keeping open the questions referred to by the two-judge bench for decision in an appropriate case.
"As we find, in the case at hand, the term of the petitioner (Amar Singh) shall be up to July 4, 2022. Thus, the reference that was made in the case of Amar Singh, the present petitioner, remains to be dealt with as the same has not been answered with the efflux of time," the apex court said today.
"As the question remains alive today, we think it appropriate that the matter should be placed before the larger bench for consideration of the questions which we have reproduced from the decision rendered in Amar Singh," it said.
The bench said the petition be placed before Chief Justice of India J S Khehar for the constitution of an appropriate larger bench to deal with the issues.
"In the alternative, declare that the petitioner having been expelled by the Samajwadi Party, his conduct would no longer fall within the acts that constitute a disqualification within the meaning of para 2(1)(a) and para 2(1)(b) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution," Singh's plea had said.
The apex court also issued notice to the Centre on the interim relief sought by Singh that the 1996 verdict shall not apply to him while the issues raised by him are pending consideration by the larger bench.
As per the interpretation of the anti-defection law by the Supreme Court in 1996, a member elected or nominated by a political party continues to be under its control even after his or her expulsion.