suspension-of-mps-and-role-of-opposition

CONTEXT

The twelve members of opposition in Rajya Sabha were suspended for the entire winter session for unprecedented acts of misconduct, unruly and violent behaviour & International attacks on security personnel.

This is the first time that members of rajya Sabha have  been suspended for misconduct, opposition parties have described the move as authoritarian, unwarranted and un democratic

POWERS OF PRESIDING OFFICERS TO SUSPEND MPs

Rulebook of the house

  • The rule book of lok lok Sabha specifies that MPs should not interrupt the speech of others, maintain silence and not obstruct proceedings by hitting on making running commentary is during the debates
  • The updation of rules in 1989 have tried to address the new forms of protests, with members not allowed to shout slogans, display placards, tear up documents and protest and play a cassette tape recorder in the house
  • There are similar set off rules for rajya Sabha and the rule book gives certain parts to presiding officers of both the houses to conduct the proceedings smoothly

Powers of presiding officer

  • The presiding officer of both the houses can direct member to withdraw from legislative chamber for grossly disorderly conduct, then the MP has to remain absent from the proceedings of the house for the remaining day
  • The presiding officers can also name and MP for persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the house. 
  • In such a case the parliamentary affairs minister moves the motion for suspension of the funding MP from the service of the house, the suspension can last till the end of the session
  • Rule 374 A- Loksabha rule was amended in 2001 to empower the speaker to automatically suspend an MP for maximum of 5 days for disrupting the business of the house

THE PROBLEM OF DISRUPTIONS

  • Former chairman of rajya Sabha set that disorders in the house arise out of a sense of frustration held by the members because of lack of opportunities to make their point clear or their chest of grievances of the people or may be due to to heat of the moment
  • The former prime minister has said that majority party is responsible for governing and should take other parties into confidence, opposition parties should play a constructive role in parliament and be allowed to put forward their views and express them in a dignified manner
  • Time and again leaders have emphasized that debate is Central to a democracy, thus there should be more debate and fewer destructions
  • Where is a need of cordial and respectful relationship between the opposition and the ruling parties as the power is transient and the party ruling at centre in not be in control in the states
  • There is a need of leaders with political will and more importantly the political ability to represent and advocate for real growth and development of the respective constituencies

ROLE OF OPPOSITION

  • As the laws passed by parliament are increasingly seen as an acceptable with majority government feeling less representative than minority government of the past the important responsibility lies with the opposition
  • There is a need to ensure coordination on common issues, strategize on parliamentary procedures and above all endeavour to represent the voice of the voiceless
  • The opposition needs to avoid creation of pandemonium, noise and sloganeering cannot replace the responsibility to represent, it is only a cover up for bad coordination
  • The idea of representation requires that all MPs should be sensitive to public opinion, show the opposition's needs to take up the responsibility to challenge and prove the government

ROLE OF RULING PARTY MPs

Accountability of executive to legislature- Their role is not merely to run the house whatever way the government wishes but also to probe  the executive delicately

Role as representatives of people- They may lose the authenticity of their role as representative while creating an atmosphere which allows the government to sidestep all the opposition

  • The independence of ruling party members is connected to both intra party democracy as well as intra party factionalism

Litmus test for ruling members- The litmus test for ruling members is the way how they express themselves in the parliament, they need to have an intellectual position of their own and courage to express their dissatisfaction

WAY FORWARD

Robust civil society

  • Protest have played and also in future will continue to play a critical role enforcing to confront the issue of representation, it must be remembered that no democracy can exist without a robust civil society
  • The rising antimony between parliament and protests is more because of an representativeness of parliament than due to rebellious ways of civil society

Dissent is the safety valve of democracy

  • Search contestations constitutes the core of democracy, all democracies around the globe have learnt this the hard way
  • The Civil society does not cause civil war, contrary to a typical police persons wisdom of masquerading a security theory, its suppression causes the Civil War

Alternative model of governance

  • Opposition parties need to work for delivering an alternative governance model based on the idea of human being society and real governance

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