Speaker: Roles and Responsibility: RSTV - In Depth

Rajya Sabha TV programs like ‘The Big Picture’, ‘In Depth’ and ‘India’s World’ are informative programs that are important for UPSC preparation. In this article, you can read about the discussions held in the ‘In-Depth’ episode on Speaker: Roles and Responsibility for the IAS exam. You can watch the episode and download the related PDF at the end of this article.

Find out how IAS Toppers cracked one of the toughest exams in the country with relative ease by visiting the linked article!!

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What’s in the news?

  • Members of the 17th Lok Sabha have taken the oath.
  • The House will now elect its Speaker on 19th June 2019. 
  • The NDA has named two-time BJP MP Om Birla as its nominee for the post.
  • Birla, who won from the Kota-Bundi parliamentary seat in Rajasthan, will easily become the speaker as the National Democratic Alliance has a clear majority in the lower house.
  • This edition of ‘In-Depth’ will look at the election process, role and responsibilities of the Speaker. It will also look at the powers vested in the Lok Sabha Speaker, who is the highest authority in the House and also the custodian of the Parliament building.

Note on Om Birla:

  • Om Birla has been an MLA in Rajasthan thrice and an MP twice. Birla is a commerce post-graduate, educated at the Government Commerce College, Kota. 
  • His political career started with student’s politics. He was the President of the Student’s Union in 1979. 
  • Birla won his first assembly election from Kota South in 2003. He was elected twice more in 2008 and 2013. He has also served as a Minister of State (MoS) in the Vasundhara Raje Government. 
  • Birla is a quintessential party worker and quite active in the BJP’s youth wing, the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha. 
  • He is also associated with the cooperative movement in Rajasthan and helped launch the Super Bazaar scheme while serving as the Vice-Chairman of the National Cooperative Consumer Association Limited. 
  • In the Lok Sabha, both the speaker and the deputy speaker are elected from among its members by a simple majority of members present and voting in the house. Therefore, no specific qualifications are prescribed for elected as the spear of the house. 
  • The Constitution of India only requires that the Speaker should be a member of the house
  • In fact, one of the first Acts of a newly constituted house is to elect the speaker of the house. 
  • The Speaker is the Chairman of the Presiding officer of the Lok Sabha. The House elects its presiding officer and a deputy speaker by a simple majority of members. 
  • The Constitution states that the Speaker must be a member 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. 

Read previous RSTV articles here.

How is the new Speaker chosen?

  • Any member may give notice of a motion that another Member is chosen as the Speaker of the House.  The motions are then moved and voted upon. After the results are announced, the Speaker-elect is felicitated by leaders of all political parties, including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.  From then on, the new Speaker takes over the proceedings of the House.
  • An understanding of the Constitution, the Rules of Procedure, and conventions of Parliament are considered a major asset for the Speaker.  While this might indicate that a Speaker is one of the senior-most members of the House, this has not always been the norm. There have been occasions in the past where the Speaker of the House was a first-time MP.  For instance, Mr K.S. Hegde, the Speaker of the sixth Lok Sabha and Mr Bal Ram Jakhar, the Speaker of the seventh Lok Sabha were both first time MPs

To know more about the functions of the Parliament, visit the linked article.

What is the 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.

You can find more details about the Rajya Sabha in the linked article.

Speaker: Roles and Responsibility RSTV –Download PDF Here

You can find more articles through the links given in the table below. Also, visit the UPSC Syllabus page to become familiar with the exam pattern.

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