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Failure To Elect A Deputy Speaker

Context:

Recently, The Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and five states — Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand — over the failure to elect a Deputy Speaker.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What does the Constitution say about the Deputy Speaker?
  2. What is the historical context and role of Deputy Speaker in the Indian parliamentary system?
  3. Do the powers of the Speaker extend to the Deputy Speaker as well?
  4. Can the courts intervene in cases of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?

What does the Constitution say about the Deputy Speaker?

  • Article 93 : The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two member to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker and, so often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member
  • Article 178: It contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.
    • Constitutional experts point out that both Articles 93 and 178 use the word “shall”, indicating that the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker is mandatory under the Constitution.
Election of Deputy Speaker
  • Articles 93 and 178 require Deputy Speaker election “as soon as may be” but don’t specify time frame
  • In Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, Speaker is usually elected during first session, while Deputy Speaker is elected in second session
  • Election of Deputy Speaker not delayed unless there are genuine and unavoidable constraints
  • Rule 8 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha allows Speaker to fix date for Deputy Speaker election
Tenure of Deputy Speaker
  • Once elected, Deputy Speaker usually continues in office for entire duration of House
  • According to Article 94 (Article 179 for state legislatures), Deputy Speaker must vacate office if they cease to be a member of the House
  • Deputy Speaker may also resign or be removed from office by House resolution passed by majority of all members

What is the historical context and role of Deputy Speaker in the Indian parliamentary system?

Historical Context of Deputy Speaker

  • In 1941, H V Kamath argued that if Speaker resigns, resignation should be addressed to President and not Deputy Speaker because latter holds a subordinate office
  • Dr B R Ambedkar disagreed and said Speaker and Deputy Speaker are chosen by House, so resignations should be addressed to House

Role of Deputy Speaker

  • If Speaker resigns, resignation addressed to either Speaker or Deputy Speaker as they represent the House
  • When Neelam Sanjiva Reddy resigned as Speaker in 1969, he addressed resignation to Deputy Speaker
  • If Deputy Speaker post is vacant, House is informed of Speaker’s resignation by Deputy Speaker or Secretary-General
  • Resignation is notified in Gazette and Bulletin per Rules for Presiding Officers of Lok Sabha

Do the powers of the Speaker extend to the Deputy Speaker as well?

  • Article 95(1) says: “While the office of Speaker is vacant, the duties of the office shall be performed by the Deputy Speaker”.
  • In general, the Deputy Speaker has the same powers as the Speaker when presiding over a sitting of the House.
  • All references to the Speaker in the Rules are deemed to be references to the Deputy Speaker when he presides.
  • It has been repeatedly held that no appeal lies to the Speaker against a ruling given by the Deputy Speaker or any person presiding over the House in the absence of the Speaker.

Can the courts intervene in cases of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?

  • In September 2021, a petition was filed before the Delhi High Court, which argued that delay in the election of the Deputy Speaker violated Article 93 (Pawan Reley v. Speaker, Lok Sabha & Ors).
  • 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.
  • Article 122(1) says: “The validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.”
  • However, experts said that 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”.

-Source: Indian Express


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