From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Article 105(2) of the Constitution
Mains level : Parilamentary Conduct
Portions of a politicians’ speech delivered in Lok Sabha have been expunged — or removed — from the records of Parliament by the orders of the Speaker.
Constitutional immunity for parliamentary speeches
- Under Article 105(2) of the Constitution, “no Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said…in Parliament or any committee thereof”.
- However, MPs don’t enjoy the freedom to say whatever they want inside the House.
- The speech of MPs is subject to the discipline of the Rules of Parliament, “good sense” of its Members, and the control of proceedings by the Speaker.
- These checks ensure that MPs cannot use “defamatory or indecent or undignified or unparliamentary words” inside the House.
How should Parliamentary Speeches be?
- The Indian Parliament has a code of conduct which requires all members to speak in a civil and courteous manner.
- Un-parliamentary speeches are not tolerated and offenders can be suspended or even expelled from the house.
- The Speaker has the power to expunge any un-parliamentary speech from the record of the House and from the transcripts of the proceedings.
Disciplinary action against unruly speeches
- The Lok Sabha Speaker has the power to expunge any un-parliamentary speech made in the House.
- The Speaker can also refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further action.
- The Speaker can also refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further action which may include imposing fines and imprisonment for a period of up to six months.
- The Speaker may also order the offender to apologize to the House.
- Similar is the procedure with the Rajya Sabha Chairman.
What is the expunging of speeches?
- The expunging of certain words, sentences, or portions of a speech from the records is fairly routine procedure, and is carried out in accordance with laid down rules.
- The decision on which parts of the proceedings are to be expunged lies with the Presiding Officer of the House.
What are the rules on expunging from the record?
- Rule 380 (“Expunction”) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha states the procedure for removal of a speech from the records.
- Rule 381 says: The portion of the proceedings of the House so expunged shall be marked by asterisks and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as follows: ‘Expunged as ordered by the Chair’.”
What happens after a word has been expunged?
- Expunged portions of the proceedings cease to exist in the records of Parliament, and they can no longer be reported by media houses, even though they may have been heard during the live telecast of the proceedings.
- However, the proliferation of social media has introduced challenges in the watertight implementation of expunction orders.
- Parliamentary speeches should be polite, respectful and dignified, avoiding any kind of personal attacks or slurs.
- They should focus on the issue at hand, avoiding any kind of partisan rhetoric.
- No offensive language should be used and all debates should be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
- As a rule, all speakers should show due consideration for their colleagues and refrain from any kind of personal criticism.
- They should stick to the facts and avoid unsubstantiated claims. Parliamentary speeches should be concise, clear and fact-based.
- Finally, all speakers should remain mindful of their role as representatives of the people and should strive to maintain the highest standards of public discourse.
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