the-office-of-the-deputy-speaker-th

Context: The Congress has renewed its campaign seeking the Deputy Speaker’s position in the Lok Sabha. 

  • The Lok Sabha has not had a Deputy Speaker for the last 15 months. Instead, a panel of MPs has been assisting the Speaker. 
  • Upto the 10th Lok Sabha, both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were usually from the ruling party.
  • Since the 11th Lok Sabha, there has been a consensus that the Speaker comes from the ruling party (or ruling alliance) and the post of Deputy Speaker goes to the main opposition party. 

Analysis

  • Like the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Deputy Speaker is also elected by the Lok Sabha itself from amongst its members.
  • He is elected after the election of the Speaker has taken place.
  • The date of election of the Deputy Speaker is fixed by the Speaker.
  • Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker remains in office usually during the life of the Lok Sabha.
  • However, he may vacate his office earlier in any of the following three cases:
  • If he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha;
  • If he resigns by writing to the Speaker; and
  • If he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Lok Sabha (such a notice can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice).
  • The Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker’s office when it is vacant.
  • He also acts as the Speaker when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House.
  • In both the cases, he assumes all the powers of the Speaker.
  • He also presides over the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, in case the Speaker is absent from such a sitting.
  • The Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker. He is directly responsible to the House.
  • The Deputy Speaker has one special privilege; whenever he is appointed as a member of a parliamentary committee, he automatically becomes its chairman.
  • Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, while presiding over the House, cannot vote in the first instance; he can only exercise a casting vote in the case of a lie.
  • Further, when a resolution for the removal of the Deputy Speaker is under consideration of the House, he cannot preside at the sitting of the House, though he may be present.
  • When the Speaker presides over the House, the Deputy Speaker is like any other ordinary member of the House.
  • He can speak in the House, participate in its proceeding and vote on any question before the House.
  • The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, while assuming their offices, do not make and subscribe any separate oath or affirmation.

Historical Evolution of the Offices of Speaker and deputy Speaker

  • The institutions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, originated in India in 1921 under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford Reforms).
  • At that time, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were called the President and the deputy President respectively and the same nomenclature continued till 1947.
  • Before 1921, the Governor-General of India used to preside over the meetings of the Central Legislative Council.
  • In 1921, the Frederick Whyte and Sachidanand Sinha were appointed by the Governor-General of India as the first Speaker and the first Deputy Speaker respectively of the Central Legislative Assembly.
  • In 1925, Vithalbhai J. Patel became the first Indian and the first elected Speaker of the Central Legislative Assembly.
  • The Government of India Act of 1935 changed the nomenclatures of President and Deputy President of the Central Legislative Assembly to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively. 
  • However, the old nomenclature continued till 1947 as the federal part of the 1935 Act was not implemented. 
  • G.V. Mavalankar and Ananthasayanam Ayyangar had the distinction of being the first Speaker and the first Deputy Speaker (respectively) of the Lok Sabha. 
  • G.V. Mavalankar also held the post of Speaker in the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) as well as the provisional Parliament. 
  • He held the post of Speaker of Lok Sabha continuously for one decade from 1946 to 1956.

Panel of Chairpersons of Lok Sabha

  • Under the Rules of Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates from amongst the members a panel of not more than ten chairpersons.
  • Any of them can preside over the House in the absence of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker. 
  • It must be emphasised here that a member of the panel of chairpersons cannot preside over the House, when the office of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker is vacant. 
  • During such time, the Speaker’s duties are to be performed by such member of the House as the President may appoint for the purpose. 
  • The elections are held, as soon as possible, to fill the vacant posts.
  • When a member of the panel of chairpersons is also not present, any other person as determined by House acts as the Speaker.
  • He has the same powers as the Speaker when so presiding. He holds office until a new panel of chairpersons is nominated.