Context:

Seven MPs of a political party were suspended for unruly behavior in the Lok Sabha. The motion was passed by a voice vote.

LOK SABHA

The general principle is that it is the role and duty of the Speaker of Lok Sabha to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.

Article 105(2) of the Constitution lays down that “no Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof”.

However MPs do not enjoy the freedom to say whatever they want inside the House.

  • Whatever an MP says is subject to the discipline of the Rules of Parliament, the “good sense” of Members, and the control of proceedings by the Speaker.
  • These checks ensure that MPs cannot use “defamatory or indecent or undignified or unparliamentarily words” inside the House.
  • Rule 380 (“Expunction”) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha regulates the speech of MPs.
  • It says: “If the Speaker is of opinion that words have been used in debate which are defamatory or indecent or un-parliamentary or undignified, the Speaker may, while exercising discretion order that such words be expunged from the proceedings of the House.”
  • Rule 381 says: “The portion of the proceedings of the House so expunged shall be marked by asterisks and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as follows: ‘Expunged as ordered by the Chair’.”
  • In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker is empowered to force a Member to withdraw from the House (for the remaining part of the day), or to place him/her under suspension.

Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business says:

  • The Speaker, if is of the opinion that the conduct of any Member is grossly disorderly, may direct such Member to withdraw immediately from the House, and any Member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.

To deal with more recalcitrant Members, the Speaker may take recourse to Rules 374 and 374A. Rule 374 says:

  • The Speaker may, it deems it necessary, name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.
  • If a Member is so named by the Speaker, the Speaker shall, on a motion being made forthwith put the question that the Member (naming such Member) be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session: Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
  • A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.
While the Speaker is empowered to place a Member under suspension, the authority for revocation of this order is not vested in her.It is for the House, if it so desires, to resolve on a motion to revoke the suspension.

RAJYA SABHA

The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is empowered under Rule Number 255 of its Rule Book to “direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately” from the House.

  • Any Member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting.
  • The Chairman may name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and willfully obstructing business.
  • In such a situation, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
  • The House may, however, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member.
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