Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Explained: Suspension of Members of Parliament


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Suspension of MPs

Mains level : Parliamentary behavior and decency

Recently eight Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended for unruly behaviour in the House.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Speaker of the legislative assembly shall vacate his/her office of he/she ceases to be a member of the assembly
  2. Whenever the legislative assembly is dissolved the speaker shall vacate his/her office immediately

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2018)

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 not 2

What is the reason for suspending an MP?

  • The general principle is that it is the role and duty of the Presiding Officer — Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha — to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
  • 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.

What are the rules under which the Presiding Officer acts?

  • Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business provides for the suspension of MPs by the Speaker of the House.
  • To deal with more recalcitrant Members, the Speaker make take recourse to Rules 374 and 374A.
  • Rule 374 says: The Speaker may, if 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.
  • Rule 374A was incorporated in the Rule Book on December 5, 2001. The intention was to skirt around the necessity of moving and adopting a motion for suspension.

Procedure in Rajya Sabha

It’s largely similar, with one important difference.

  • 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. The House may, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
  • 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.

Is suspending an MP a decent practice?

  • It is a strong action, but it is not uncommon. In general, a balance has to be struck.
  • There can be no question that the enforcement of the supreme authority of the Presiding Officer is essential for smooth conduct of proceedings.
  • However, it must be remembered that the job of the Presiding Officer is to run the House, not to lord over it.

Alternatives to suspension

  • The solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.
  • A previous Speaker had ordered that television cameras be focussed on the demonstrating members so that people could see for themselves how their representatives were behaving in the House.

Present situation

  • In the present case, however, the Opposition has accused the Chairman of stopping the telecast of the proceedings in Rajya Sabha.
  • What cannot be denied is that Speaker’s/Chairman’s actions are often dictated more by expediency and the stand of the party that they belong to, rather than by the Rules and principles.
  • So, the ruling party of the day invariably insists on the maintenance of discipline, just as the Opposition insists on its right to protest. And their positions change when their roles flip.

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