Maharashtra has been without a Speaker since February. The sessions are now presided by Deputy Speaker.
- Even Lok Sabha and several state Assemblies are without a Deputy Speaker.
Election of Speakers
- The Constitution specifies offices like those of the President, Vice President, Chief Justice of India, and Comptroller and Auditor General of India, as well as Speakers and Deputy Speakers.
- Article 93 for Lok Sabha and Article 178 for state Assemblies state that these Houses “shall, as soon as may be”, choose two of its members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
- In Lok Sabha and state legislatures, the President/Governor sets a date for the election of the Speaker.
- It is the Speaker who decides the date for the election of the Deputy Speaker.
- The legislators of the respective Houses vote to elect one among themselves to these offices.
- The Constitution provides that the office of the Speaker should never be empty.
- So, he/she continues in office until the beginning of the next House, except in the event of death or resignation.
Ruling party or Opposition?
- Usually, the Speaker comes from the ruling party.
- In the case of the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, the position has varied over the years.
- Until the fourth Lok Sabha, the Congress held both the Speaker and Deputy Speakers positions.
- In the fifth Lok Sabha, whose term was extended due to the Emergency, an independent member, Shri G G Swell, was elected the Deputy Speaker.
- The tradition for the post of the Deputy Speaker going to the Opposition party started during the term of Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s government.
- The first time the Deputy Speaker’s position went to the opposition was during the term of Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.
DEPUTY SPEAKER OF LOK SABHA
He too is elected by the house after the speaker on a day decided by speaker. His terms of office and grounds for removal and procedure for removal, provision for salary and allowances are same as speaker. He resigns by writing to the speaker.
When he is the presiding officer of the house in absence of speaker he has same powers as the speaker. He isn’t subordinate to the speaker but directly responsible to the house.
Whenever the speaker is present the deputy speaker becomes an ordinary member of the house. However if he is a member of a parliamentary committee then he automatically becomes the chairman of the committee. Both the speaker and the deputy speaker don’t take any oath for office.
The Government of India Act, 1919 created the institutions of speaker and deputy. Sachinanand Sinha was the first deputy speaker of the central legislative assembly. Vithalbhai Patel was the first Indian speaker of the central legislative assembly. G.V. Malvankar was the speaker of the first Lok Sabha and also speaker of the constituent assembly (legislative)
The speaker of the previous Lok Sabha resigns just before the first sitting of the new Lok Sabha.
Hence to preside over the temporary Lok Sabha the president selects a member [by convention the senior most] to preside over the first session. The oath of speaker pro tem is administered by the president himself.
The speaker pro tem enables in election of new speaker. He also administers oath to the members of the house.
Removal of the Speaker:
- The House can remove the Speaker through a resolution passed by an effective majority which means more than 50% of the total strength needs to vote for removing the Speaker. This is done as per Articles 94 and 96.
- The Speaker can also be removed on getting disqualified from being a Lok Sabha member under sections 7 and 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- A Speaker can also tender his resignation to the Deputy Speaker.
- Dr Neelam Sanjiva Reddy is the only Speaker to have resigned from office.
- Dr Neelam Sanjiva Reddy also has the distinction of having been a Speaker who was later elected as the President of India.
- Since the Indian system of government follows the Westminster model, the Parliamentary proceedings of the country are headed by a presiding officer who is called the Speaker.
- The Lok Sabha which is the highest legislative body in the country chooses its Speaker who presides over the day to day functioning of the House.
Role of the Speaker in the House
- While members of Parliament represent individual constituencies, the Speaker represents the whole authority of the House itself.
- He or she symbolizes the dignity and power of the House over which he or she is presiding. Therefore, it is expected that the holder of this office, acts as a true guardian of the traditions of Parliamentary democracy.
- According to the Constitution of India, a Speaker is vested with immense administrative and discretionary powers. These include: Presiding over the meetings of the House (In other words, the Speaker conducts the business of the house by ensuring discipline and decorum among the members).
- He/she guards the rights and privileges of the members of the two Houses (deciding who should speak at what time; the questions to be asked; the order of proceedings to be followed, among others).
- A Speaker uses his/her power to vote in order to resolve a deadlock, i.e. when a House initiates a voting procedure, the Speaker doesn’t cast a vote in the first instance. It is only when the two sides receive an equal number of votes, that the Speaker’s vote breaks the deadlock, making his/her position impartial.
- In the absence of a quorum in the House, it is the duty of the Speaker to adjourn the House or to suspend any meeting until the quorum is met. The Speaker decides the agenda that must be discussed in a meeting of the MPs.
- The Speaker is invested with immense powers to interpret the Rules of Procedure, i.e. since he/she is a member of the House, as well as the Presiding Officer, he/she ensures the discipline of the House.
- The Speaker ensures that MPs are punished for unruly behaviour.
- A Speaker can also disqualify a member of Parliament from the House on the grounds of defection. He/she also permits various Parliamentary procedures, like the motion of adjournment, the motion of no confidence, and the motion of censure among others. The Speaker presides over the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament. Once a money bill is transmitted from the lower House to the upper House, the Speaker is solely responsible for endorsing his/her certificate on the Bill. In other words, he/she is given the pivotal power to decide whether any bill is a Money Bill. This decision is considered final.
- The Speaker has under his/her jurisdiction, a number of Parliamentary Committees such as the Rules Committee, the Business Advisory Committee and the General Purposes Committee.
- The Speaker nominates the various Chairmen of these committees and also looks into the procedural hindrances of the workings of these Committees.
- The Speaker is also the chair of the Business Advisory Committee, which is responsible for deciding the business of the House and allocating time for the same. The Speaker also chairs the General Purposes Committee and the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha and appoints the chairpersons of other committees amongst the members. In the past, Speakers have also been instrumental in strengthening the Committee system. Mr Shivraj Patil, the Speaker of the 10th Lok Sabha, played a key role in the initiation of 17 Departmental Standing Committees, therefore strengthening Parliament’s control over the functioning of different ministries of the government.
- Since the Speaker represents the entire House, the office of the Speaker is vested with impartiality and independence. The Constitution and the Rules of Procedure have prescribed guidelines for the Speaker’s office to ensure such impartiality and independence. Dr N. Sanjiva Reddy, the Speaker of the fourth Lok Sabha, formally resigned from his political party as he was of the opinion that the Speaker belongs to the whole House and should, therefore, remain impartial. As per Article 100 of the Constitution, the Speaker does not exercise a vote on any matter being voted upon, in the first instance. However, in case there’s a tie during the voting, the Speaker exercises her vote.
Issue over time limit for election
- The Constitution neither sets a time limit nor specifies the process for these elections.
- It leaves it to the legislatures to decide how to hold these elections.
- Haryana and Uttar Pradesh specify a time frame for holding the election to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s offices.
- In Haryana, the election of the Speaker has to take place as soon as possible after the election.
- Uttar Pradesh has a 15-day limit for an election to the Speaker’s post if it falls vacant during the term of the Assembly.
Source: Indian Express