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General Studies 2 >> Polity




1. Context

Over this week, the two Houses of Parliament have suspended 27 MPs between them, the latest being two AAP MPs and an independent MP from Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Lok Sabha has suspended four Congress MPs, and Rajya Sabha 23 MPs from the Trinamool Congress, DMK, TRS, CPI, CPI(M), and AAP, besides the independent. The Rajya Sabha suspensions are for the remaining part of this week, and those from Lok Sabha are for the rest of the session.

2. Suspension of MPs

  • It is the role and duty of the Presiding officer- Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
  • In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker/Chairman is empowered to force a member to withdraw from the House.

3. Why do MPs disrupt Parliament?

  • Over the years, the presiding officers of the legislature and political leaders have discussed and identified four broad reasons leading to disorder in the legislature.
  • One reason is the lack of time available to MPs for raising important matters; a second is the "unresponsive attitude of the government and retaliatory posture by Treasury benches".
  • The other two reasons are deliberate disruption by parties for political or publicity purposes, and the absence of prompt action against MPs disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

4. Rules under which the Presiding Officer/Chairman acts

4.1 For Loksabha

Rule number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.

  • It empowers presiding officers to direct an MP to withdraw from the house for any disorderly conduct.
  • This rule says that any Member so ordered to withdraw shall remain absent during the remainder of the day's sitting.

Rule Number 374 and 374A

  • To deal with more recalcitrant (uncooperative)
  • Rule 374 empowers the Presiding officers to name the legislators of the MP who continue disrupting the House even after repeated warnings.
  • After that, the House can move a motion to suspend the MP for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
  • Rule 374A was incorporated into the Rule book in December 2001. The intention was to circumvent the necessity of adopting a motion for suspension.
  • Under this rule, the speaker can name an MP, who shall then automatically stand suspended for five days or the remaining part of the session, whichever is less.
  • Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.

4.2 For Rajya Sabha

Rule 255 of the Rule Book of Rajya Sabha

It empowers the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to direct any Member to withdraw immediately from the House for any disorderly conduct. 

Rule 256

  • This rule empowers the Chairman to name the members who persistently disregard the authority of the Chair or abuse the rules of the Council.
  • After that, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
  • It should be noted that, unlike Lok Sabha (under rule 374A), Rajya Sabha can not suspend its members without passing a motion for the same.

5. Can courts intervene in a matter of suspension of MPs?

  • Article 122 of the Indian Constitution says parliamentary proceedings cannot be questioned before a court.
  • In some cases, however, courts have intervened in the procedural functioning of legislatures.
  • For example, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed a resolution in its 2021 Monsoon Session suspending 12 BJP MLAs for a year.
  • The matter came before the supreme court, which held that the resolution was ineffective in law beyond the remainder of the Monsoon Session.

6. What has Parliament done to address these issues?

  • The government and not Parliament decides the parliamentary calendar.
  • Therefore, the decision about the time available with Parliament for discussions rests with the government.
  • The parliamentary procedure also prioritizes government business over other debates that take place in the legislature.
  • In this regard, Parliament has not updated its rules over the last 70 years to give Opposition parties a say in deciding the agenda for discussion.
  • The stance of political parties on uninterrupted parliamentary functioning depends on whether they belong to the ruling party/coalition or are in the opposition.
  • In 2001, Lok sabha amended its rules to give the speaker more powers to discipline MPs who disrupt House proceedings.

7. Other Key information

The BJP has asked Speaker Om Birla to set up a special committee of Lok Sabha to explore whether Congress leader Rahul Gandhi should be suspended for allegedly insulting the country, its democracy, and Parliament during his recent visit to the United Kingdom. Rahul has rejected the allegations and refused to apologize for his statements.

8. What is the legal basis for setting up the special committee?

  • The House can set up a committee and decide its terms of reference. It is entirely within its power.
  • A special committee could be formed by moving a motion for the establishment of such a committee and its terms of reference.
  • The offense will have to be defined before anyone can be punished for it.
    A committee that was similar to the one that was set up to investigate the cash-for-votes scandal in 2008 could be formed to investigate and punish an MP.
  • A mechanism to look into the “moral and ethical conduct of the members” already exists in the Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha.
  • However, the BJP does not want Rahul’s case to be “one of the many issues before the committee”.
  • Instead, it wants a special committee along the lines of the one constituted to look into the cash-for-query scandal in 2005.

Previous year Question

1. Regarding the office of the Lok Sabha speaker, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2012)
1. He/She holds the office during the pleasure of the President.
2. He/She need not be a member of the House at the time of his/her election but has to become a member of the House within six months from the date of his/her election.
3. If he/she intends to resign, the letter of his/her resignation has to be addressed to the Deputy Speaker.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.  1 and 2 only                 B.  3 only                 C.  1, 2 and 3                 D. None
Answer: B
The Speaker is elected by the members of Lok Sabha from amongst its members (as soon as may be, after its first sitting).

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Rule Number 373, 374, and 374A of Lok Sabha, Rule 255 and Rule 256 of the Rule Book of Rajya Sabha, Special Committee.
For Mains: 1. The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof. (UPSC 2017).
Source: The Indian Express

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