The Supreme Court recently issued notices to the Centre and five states namely Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand over the failure to elect a Deputy Speaker.
A Bench led by CJI also sought responses on a PIL contending that not electing a Deputy Speaker to the 17th (present) Lok Sabha, is “against the letter and spirit of the Constitution”.
Can government intervene in the election of Deputy Speaker?
- Constitutionally, the government has not been assigned any role in the election of the Deputy Speaker.
- As per Rule 8 of the Rules and Procedure of Lok Sabha, it is the Speaker who has to fix the date of the election of the Deputy Speaker.
- Once the date is fixed, any member can propose the name of any other member through a motion for the consideration of the House.
- The House can then proceed to elect its Deputy Speaker.
- But in reality, it is the government which initiates the political process of the consultation with other parties and works out a consensus.
- If this does not work, the government can propose the name of its own member for the position of Deputy Speaker.
- There is other way, which is unconventional and has never been tried.
- Since the Speaker sets the process to elect Deputy Speaker in motion by fixing the date, any member of the House can move a resolution requesting the Speaker to fix the date.
- The treasury benches cannot oppose such a resolution as it is aimed at implementing the constitutional mandate.
- The Speaker also has no constitutional requirement to wait for the advice of the Union cabinet in fixing the date of election of the Deputy Speaker.
- This is unlike his own date of election that is decided by the President who abides by the advice of the Union cabinet which chooses the date.
Why there is no Deputy Speaker yet in the 17th Lok Sabha?
- There is an impression that the Deputy Speaker is not an indispensable office and the House can be run even without one.
- The Treasury benches have also maintained that there is no “immediate requirement” for a Deputy Speaker as “bills are being passed and discussions are being held” as normal in the House.
- A Minister also argued that the panel of senior, experienced members, selected from different parties can act as chairpersons to assist the Speaker to run the House.
- In the eventuality of the Speaker remaining absent for a longer time due to illness or otherwise the government may fear the unpredictability of an adverse ruling by the Deputy Speaker who comes from the Opposition ranks.
- Thus, by not electing Deputy Speaker the government may have exercised caution.
Can the courts intervene in case of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?
- In Pawan Reley v. Speaker, Lok Sabha & Ors 2021, the petition in Delhi HC argued that delay in the election of the Deputy Speaker violated Article 93. However, there is no precedent of a court forcing the legislature to elect the Deputy Speaker.
- Courts usually don’t intervene in the procedural conduct of Parliament as the Article 122(1) says that the validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.
- However, as per experts, the courts do have jurisdiction to at least inquire into why there has been no election to the post of Deputy Speaker since the Constitution does envisage an election “as soon as may be”.
The Deputy Speaker being an officer of Parliament is significant in the parliamentary system as s/he maintains continuity of the House and represents it in absence of Speaker. Hence, the post must not be left vacant as it is not ceremonious but a constitutionally mandated one.
Source – The Indian Express
QUESTION – There is an impression that the Deputy Speaker is not an indispensable office and the House can be run even without one. Comment.