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How are Rajya Sabha members punished for misconduct in the House?

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

 

Context:

More than two months after eight Ministers, at a joint press conference, accused the Opposition of assaulting security officials on the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament, there has been no disciplinary action against anyone.

 

What’s the issue?

On August 11, during the passage of the contentious Insurance Bill, which 22 Opposition parties had demanded be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny, there was a physical tussle between the Opposition members and the security staff.

  • The very next day, the eight Ministers accused the Opposition of “bringing anarchy from the streets to Parliament”.
  • The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has already completed its internal examination and studied the precedents of action taken in similar cases.

 

Basis for punishment:

Chairman has the power to conduct smooth proceedings of the house.

If any rules are violated, the Chairman has the power to initiate disciplinary action.

  • But the Rules of the House do not empower Parliament to inflict any punishment on its members other than suspension for creating disorder in the House.

 

Rule 256 of the Rajya Sabha’s Rules of Procedure:

Specifies the acts of misconduct:

  • Under this, an MP can be suspended for disregarding the authority of the Chair or wilfully abusing the rules or obstructing the business of the house.
  • However, the power to suspend an MP is vested in the house, not the chairman. The chairman only names the member, while the Parliamentary Affairs minister or any other minister moves the motion for suspending the member.

 

Procedure to be followed for suspension of Rajya Sabha MPs:

  • The Chairman may “name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully 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.

 

Terms of suspension:

  1. The maximum period of suspension is for the remainder of the session.
  2. Suspended members cannot enter the chamber or attend the meetings of the committees.
  3. He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission.
  4. He loses the right to get a reply to his questions.

 

Appointment of the special committee:

  • These ad-hoc committees are appointed only to investigate serious misconduct by MPs outside the house.
  • These are usually appointed when the misconduct is very severe and the house is deciding to expel the member.
  • No special committee is required to go into what happens before the eyes of the presiding officer in the House. As per the rules of the House, they need to be dealt with then and there.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know the differences in powers of Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha with regard to suspension of MPs? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Power to suspend MPs vs powers to revoke suspension.
  2. Difference in procedures followed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in this regard.
  3. Appeals with regard to election of MPs.
  4. Rules in this regard.

Mains Link:

The solution to unruly behaviour of MPs in Parliament has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.