The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha, and its representative. He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, the House as a whole and its committees. He is the principal spokesman of the House, and his decision in all Parliamentary matters is final.
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha derives his powers and duties from three sources, that is, the Constitution of India, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha, and Parliamentary Conventions (residuary powers that are unwritten
or unspecified in the Rules).
Seven Congress members were suspended on March 5 for unruly behaviour in the Lok Sabha. The motion was passed by a voice vote.
Power of the Speaker to suspend an MP
While the Speaker is empowered to place a Member under suspension, the authority for revocation of this order is not vested in her. It is for the House, if it so desires, to resolve on a motion to revoke the suspension.
Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business says:
“The Speaker, if is of the opinion that the conduct of any Member is grossly disorderly, may direct such Member to withdraw immediately from the House, and any Member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.”
To deal with more recalcitrant Members, the Speaker may take recourse to Rules 374 and 374A. Rule 374 says:
“(1) The Speaker may, if deems it necessary, name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.
“(2) If a Member is so named by the Speaker, the Speaker shall, on a motion being made forthwith put the question that the Member (naming such Member) be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session: Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
“(3) A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.”
Later in 2001, the Rule 374A was added.
This was incorporated in the Rule Book on December 5, 2001.
According to Rule 374A:
“(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in rules 373 and 374, in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a Member coming into the well of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such Member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less:
Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
“(2) On the Speaker announcing the suspension under this rule, the Member shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.”
Like the Speaker in Lok Sabha, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is empowered under Rule Number 255 of its Rule Book to “direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately” from the House.
Other Powers of the Presiding Officer:
1. He maintains order and decorum in the House for conducting its business and regulating its proceedings. This is his primary responsibility and he has final power in this regard.
2. He is the final interpreter of the provisions of (a) the Constitution of India, (b) the Rules of Procedure and
Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha, and (c) the parliamentary precedents, within the House.
3. He adjourns the House or suspends the meeting in absence of a quorum. The quorum to constitute a meeting of the House is one-tenth of the total strength of the House.
4. He does not vote in the first instance. But he can exercise a casting vote in the case of a tie. In other words, only when the House is divided equally on any question, the Speaker is entitled to vote. Such vote is called casting vote, and its purpose is to resolve a deadlock.
5. He presides over a joint setting of the two Houses of Parliament. Such a sitting is summoned by the President to settle a deadlock between the two Houses on a bill.
6. He can allow a ‘secret’ sitting of the House at the request of the Leader of the House. When the House sits in secret, no stranger can be present in the chamber, lobby or galleries except with the permission of the Speaker.
7. He decides whether a bill is a money bill or not and his decision on this question is final. When a money bill is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for recommendation and presented to the President for assent, the Speaker endorses on the bill his certificate that it is a money bill.
8. He decides the questions of disqualification of a member of the Lok Sabha, arising on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the Speaker in this regard is subject to judicial review
.9. He acts as the ex-officio chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Group which is a link between the Parliament of India and the various parliaments of the world. He also acts as the ex-officio chairman of the conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in the country.
10. He appoints the chairman of all the parliamentary committees of the Lok Sabha and supervises their functioning. He himself is the chairman of the Business Advisory Committee, the Rules Committee and the General Purpose Committee.