Portions of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s speech delivered in Lok Sabha have been expunged — or removed — from the records of Parliament by the orders of the Speaker. 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.


What are the rules on expunging from the record?

  • 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 do not 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.
  • Rule 380 (“Expunction”) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha says – “If the Speaker is of opinion that words have been used in debate which are defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified, the Speaker may, while exercising discretion order that such words be expunged from the proceedings of the House.”
  • 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 are considered as “unparliamentary” expressions?

  • Over the years, a huge number of words, both in English and other Indian languages, have been found to be “unparliamentary” by the Presiding Officers. These unparliamentary expressions are kept out of Parliament’s records.
  • The Lok Sabha Secretariat has brought out a bulky volume of ‘Unparliamentary Expressions’.
  • This book contains words or expressions that would likely be considered rude or offensive in most cultures. But it also contains content that would appear to be fairly harmless and innocuous. State legislatures too are guided mainly by the same book of unparliamentary expressions.


How is the decision taken?

  • When a member uses a word that could be unparliamentary, the head of the reporting section sends it to the Presiding Officer citing relevant rules and precedence with a recommendation to expunge them.
  • The Presiding Officer has the discretion under Rule 380 to expunge the word or usage.
  • Once the Presiding Officer expunges the word or usage, it comes back to the reporting section which removes the word from the records and mentions in the proceedings as “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.