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COURSE CORRECTION FOR THE SPEAKER’S OFFICE

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Supreme Court of India while adjudicating upon the matter relating to the disqualification of MLAs in the Manipur Legislative Assembly under the Tenth Schedule made a significant suggestion.
  • It recommended that Parliament should rethink as to whether disqualification petitions ought to be entrusted to a Speaker as a quasi-judicial authority when such a Speaker continues to belong to a particular political party
  • It was of the opinion that Parliament may seriously consider a Constitutional amendment to substitute the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies with a ‘permanent Tribunal headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, or some other outside independent mechanism
  •  Justice J.S. Verma in Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others observed: “The Speaker being an authority within the House and his tenure being dependent on the will of the majority therein, likelihood of suspicion of bias could not be ruled out.”
  •  It is suggested that a scheme should be brought wherein Speakers should renounce all political affiliations, membership and activity once they have been elected, both within the Assembly and in the country as a whole

Example of UK

Reference can be sought from the United Kingdom where the ‘main characteristic of the Speaker of the House of Commons is neutrality. In practice, once elected, the Speaker gives up all-partisan affiliation, as in other Parliaments of British tradition, but remains in office until retirement, even though the majority may change

February 2023
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