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Suspension of MPs from Parliament

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Parliament

 

Source: Indian Express

Context: As 19 Opposition members are suspended from Rajya Sabha for a week. This is important for Prelims (the process of suspension) and for mains (just remember the instances of suspension in the parliament this year- to be used as an example)

Reason for suspension:  The MPs were suspended for “unruly behaviour”.

What are the Rules under which the Presiding Officer acts? (no need to remember the rules, just look at the process once)

Power to the presiding officer: 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.

Process:

  • Speaker ( under Rule Number 373 of Lok Sabha) 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.
  • If Member disobeys:
    • Speaker may name the member and, 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.
    • A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.
  • Under Rule 374A: In case of gross violation or severe charges, on being named by the Speaker, the member stands automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less.

For Rajya Sabha, it is the same process:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The House may, however, by another motion, terminate the suspension.

Is suspending an MP a common practice in Parliament?

It is strong action, but it is not uncommon. Suspensions have become more common in recent years, and have taken place every year since 2019.

Other cases of suspension:

  • November (2021): 12 opposition members were suspended in Rajya Sabha on the very first day of the Winter Session for “their unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, unruly and violent behaviour and intentional attacks on security personnel”.
  • September (2020): Eight Rajya Sabha MPs had been suspended on September 2020 for unruly behaviour in the House the previous day.

Rules of parliamentary etiquette:

MPs are required to adhere to certain rules of parliamentary etiquette.

  • For example, the Lok Sabha rulebook specifies that MPs are not to interrupt the speech of others, maintain silence and not obstruct proceedings by hissing or making running commentaries during debates.

Newer forms of protest led to these rules being updated in 1989.

  • Now, members should not shout slogans, display placards, tear up documents in protest, and play a cassette or a tape recorder in the House.

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.

Differences in powers of Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha:

  • Like the Speaker in Lok Sabha, the Chairman of 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.
  • Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member.

Conclusion:

Every instance of suspension of an MP triggers strong statements on both sides. It is generally agreed that a balance has to be struck and that the solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.

Insta Links

Speaker of Lok Sabha

 

Practice Questions:

Q.A Parliamentary System of Government is one in which

(a) all political parties in the Parliament are represented in the Government

(b) off the Government is responsible to the Parliament and can be removed by it

(c) the Government is elected by the people and can be removed by them

(d) the Government is chosen by the Parliament but cannot be removed by it before the completion of a fixed term

Answer: B

A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance of a state where the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the support of the legislature, typically a parliament, to which it is accountable.