Larger SC bench to examine Amar's plea on anti-defection law

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday decided to refer to a larger bench a crucial question as to whether an expelled legislator or parliamentarian can be disqualified under the anti-defection law for defying a whip.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph decided to make the reference after Attorney General G E Vahanvati agreed that the issue needs to be settled by a larger bench as the apex court's earlier judgement in the Vishwanathan's case was not clear on certain aspects of the anti-defection law.

The bench said it would pass appropriate order on Monday, formulating various questions requiring consideration by the larger bench.

The bench took the decision after hearing in detail Attorney General Vahanvati and senior counsel Harish Salve and K K Venugopal, appearing for expelled Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Jaya Prada.

The two leaders had contended that they have landed in a piquant situation as expelled members, they apprehend disqualification under the anti-defection law if they choose to defy party's whip on any issue in Parliament.

The counsel for two parliamentarians argued that the anti-defection law could be evoked only against those who either defect from the party or defy its whip while being in the party.

But, in their case, they contended, they have not defected from the party but were rather expelled, and as unattached members of the party, they were not amenable to the party's whip.