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Q5. Discuss the role of Presiding Officers of state legislatures in maintaining order and impartiality in conducting legislative work and in facilitating best democratic practices. 10

 

 

Introduction

 

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly is the presiding authority and highest authority of state legislative assemblies in India for carrying out house proceedings. It was created under Article 178 of the Constitution of India. The Indian constitution also allows all states and union territories for the appointment of a speaker.

 

Body:

 

Role of Presiding Officers of state legislatures:

 

Maintaining order:

  • Enforcing rules of procedure: Presiding Officers are responsible for ensuring that legislative proceedings adhere to established rules and protocols.
    • They oversee the conduct of debates, discussions, and voting processes, ensuring that these activities follow the prescribed procedures.
  • Managing debates: This includes recognizing members who wish to speak, maintaining the speaker’s list, and ensuring that each member has a fair opportunity to voice their opinions.
  • Disciplinary actions: When disruptions or breaches of parliamentary decorum occur, Presiding Officers have the authority to take disciplinary actions.
    • These actions may include issuing warnings, suspending or expelling disruptive members, or resorting to other measures to restore order and civility.

Non-partisan role:

  • Non-Partisan Role: Presiding Officers are expected to be non-partisan and impartial in their conduct. They refrain from participating in debates or voting on legislation except in cases of a tie.
    • This neutrality ensures that legislative decisions are made objectively and without bias.
  • Fair Allocation of Time: They ensure that members from all political parties have equitable opportunities to participate in debates and discussions.
    • This includes allotting time for opposition parties to present their views and scrutinize government actions, safeguarding minority rights.
  • Objective Rulings: In instances where disputes or points of order arise during legislative sessions, Presiding Officers are responsible for making impartial and objective rulings.
    • These rulings are aimed at upholding the integrity of the legislative process and ensuring consistent application of rules.

Facilitating best democratic practices

  • Promoting informed debates: Presiding Officers create an environment where members can engage in constructive discussions, present diverse viewpoints, and contribute to informed decision-making.
  • Committee assignments: They oversee the formation of legislative committees and the appointment of members to these committees.
  • Question hour: Presiding Officers preside over the Question Hour, during which members can question the government on its policies and actions.
  • Legislative process management: They ensure that bills and proposed legislation go through the necessary stages of scrutiny, debate, and voting.
  • Representation of the Legislature: Presiding Officers often represent the legislature to external stakeholders, including the executive branch and the public.

Limitations of the speaker power:

  • Judicial review: in the Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu and Others case in 1992 SC said that the Speaker’s decision to disqualify a member of the legislative assembly under the 10th schedule is subject to judicial review as he acted as a tribunal while deciding cases under the anti-defection law.
  • Dependency on Majority Support: The Speaker’s position is dependent on the support of the majority of members in the legislative assembly.
    • This reliance on the majority can limit their independence and ability to take actions that may be in the best interest of the assembly as a whole.
  • Limited Powers: While the Speaker holds a position of authority, their powers are restricted by the rules and procedures of the legislative assembly. They may have limited discretion in interpreting and enforcing those rules.
  • Enforcement Challenges: Opposition members may engage in disruptions, filibustering, or other tactics that can impede the Speaker’s ability to effectively manage the proceedings.
  • Nabam Rabia Judgement: In the Nabam Rebia v Bemang Felix case (2016), the Supreme Court held that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for a speaker to proceed with disqualification proceedings if a no-confidence motion against him is pending.

 

Conclusion

The office of the Speaker is held in the highest respect and esteem in parliamentary traditions. The evolution of the institution of parliamentary democracy has as its pivot the institution of the Speaker. He is said to be the very embodiment of propriety and impartiality