Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Tussle over the election of Maharashtra Assembly Speaker

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached storyd

Mains level : Issues with role of Governor

Maharashtra Governor and the incumbent government are locked in a tussle over the election of the Speaker of the Assembly. The Governor has not given his consent to the election program decided by the Cabinet.

Election of Speakers to the Assembly

  • Article 178 of the Constitution provides for every Legislative Assembly to choose two members of the Assembly to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
  • The Constitution does not specify the process of holding these elections; that is left to the state legislatures.
  • It also does not set a timeframe other than to say the elections should be held “as soon as maybe”.

Some states lay down timeframes

  • In Haryana, the election of the Speaker must be held as soon as possible after the Assembly election, and the Deputy Speaker must be elected within another seven days.
  • In UP, the Speaker’s election is required to be held within 15 days if the post falls vacant during the term of the Assembly.
  • The date for the Speaker’s election is notified by the Governor.

A crucial case in Maharashtra

  • As per Rule 6 of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules, “The Governor shall fix a date for the holding of the election and the Secretary shall send to every member notice of the date so fixed.”
  • A former Secretary of the state Assembly said the election of the Speaker can take place only after the Governor fixes the date for it.

What are the recent amendments?

  • The govt has moved a motion in the Assembly seeking amendments to Rules 6 (election of Assembly Speaker) and 7 (election of Deputy Assembly Speaker) by voice vote instead of a secret ballot.
  • The amendments excluded the words “holding of the election” and included the words “to elect the Speaker on the recommendation of the Chief Minister” in Rule 6 of Maharashtra Assembly Rules.

What are the objections to these amendments?

  • The Opposition accused the govt of running the “most insecure government” that does not trust its MLAs and fears there would be cross-voting in the election of the Speaker.
  • It argued that the Rules cannot be amended in the absence of the Speaker.

What is the government’s position?

  • The government has argued that the amendments are in line with the Rules that are in practice in Lok Sabha, the Upper House of the state legislature, and in the Assemblies of several others states.
  • It has also been said that the amendments would put an end to horse trading.

What is the way ahead?

  • The govt can explore legal options to see whether the election of the Speaker could be held without the consent of the Governor.
  • However, the situation is very odd.
  • While Rule 6 mandates that the Governor should fix the date for the election, the amendment says that the Governor should fix the date on the advice on the CM.

 

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