Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Suspension of MPs for entire Winter Session is worrying

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Suspension of MPs

Context

Twelve members of the Rajya Sabha were suspended for their alleged involvement in the grave disorder in the House on the last day of the previous session.

What do Rajya Sabha’s rules of procedure say about the suspension of a member?

  • Rule 256 of Rajya Sabha’s rules of procedure provides for the suspension of a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the council by persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the House.
  • Persistent and willful obstruction of the business of the House is the crux of the offence.
  • What is the maximum period of suspension? Suspension can be for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
  • This would mean that if the member is suspended on the last day of the session, the period of suspension will be only a day.
  • So, even if a government would like to suspend such a member for a longer period. it would not be possible under the present rule.
  • Unless the House itself revokes the suspension nothing can be done about it.
  • The decision of the House is final.
  • Every legislature has the power to suspend its members if they cause disorder and obstruct the business of the House.
  • But the rule of suspension is rarely invoked in parliaments in mature democracies.

Whether the existing rules permit such a course of action?

  • Rule 256 says that the chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who either disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the House.
  • Sub Rule 2 of this rule is of very great importance in the context of the main question, namely, whether a member can be suspended in the next session for creating disorder in the previous session.
  • No adjournment is allowed: It clearly says no adjournment is allowed, which means the matter of suspension cannot be adjourned to a later period.
  • It needs to be decided then and there.
  • A member who abuses the rules of the House by persistently and willfully obstructing its business needs to be punished swiftly.
  • No adjournment is allowed at all.

The powers of the House to regulate its internal matters

  • It can be said that the rule under which the members were suspended does not actually permit it.
  • Absolute power to interpret rule: The House is supreme in these matters and the chair has absolute powers to interpret the rules.
  • The judiciary has time and again clarified that the House has absolute powers to regulate its internal matters.
  • Suspension of a member is such a matter.
  • The judiciary will intervene only when a patently unconstitutional act is done by the House.

Conclusion

The solution to disruptions does not lie in suspension. That is the lesson we should learn from past experience.

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