Role, Powers and Functions of the Speaker
- The Speaker is the representative of the Lok Sabha, and its head.
- He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, committees and the House.
- His decision is final in all Parliamentary matters and he is the principal spokesman of the House.
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha derives his powers and duties from:
- The Constitution of India
- The Rules of Procedure & Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha
- Parliamentary Conventions (residuary powers that are unwritten in the Rules).
Powers & Duties of the Speaker:
- He acts as the ex-officio chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Group and as the ex-officio chairman of the conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies.
- He decides the questions of disqualification of a member of the Lok Sabha, arising on the ground of defection under the provisions of the 10th Schedule.
- 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 and his decision is final.
- 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.
- He maintains order and decorum in the House. This is his primary responsibility and he has final power in this regard.
- He does not vote in the first instance. But he can exercise a casting vote in the case of a tie.
- He adjourns the House or suspends the meeting in absence of a quorum. The quorum to constitute a meeting of the House is 1/10th of the total strength of the House.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Read Also: GDP Growth Slumps To 5.8% As the Speaker is vested with great prestige, position and authority, independence and impartiality becomes its sine qua non.
Following provisions ensure the independence and impartiality of the Speaker:
- He cannot vote in the first instance. He can only exercise a casting vote in the event of a tie. This makes the position of Speaker impartial.
- He is placed at 7th rank, along with the CJI. This means, he has a higher rank than all cabinet ministers, except the PM or Deputy PM.
- His conduct cannot be discussed/criticised, except on a substantive motion.
- He is provided with a security of tenure. He can be removed only by a resolution passed by the Lok Sabha by an absolute majority and not by an ordinary majority. This motion of removal must have the support of at least 50 members.
- His powers of regulating procedure/conducting business/maintaining order in the House are not subject to the jurisdiction of any Court.
- His salaries and allowances are fixed by Parliament. They are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and thus are not subject to the annual vote of Parliament.
In Britain, the Speaker has to resign from his party and remain politically neutral, while in India the Speaker does not resign from the membership of his party on his election.
Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha
- He elected by the Lok Sabha after the election of the Speaker.
- The date of election of the Deputy Speaker is fixed by the Speaker.
- When his office falls vacant, the Lok Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.
- 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 cases:
- If he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of members in the Lok Sabha, after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
- If he resigns by writing to the Speaker.
- If he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha.
- He acts as the Speaker when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House.
- The Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker’s office when it is vacant.
- He has one special privilege, that 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 tie.
- If the Speaker is absent from joint sitting, he presides over the joint sitting.
- He can speak in the House, participate in its proceedings and vote on any question before the House.
- He is not subordinate to the Speaker. He is directly responsible to the House.
- 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.
- The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, while assuming their offices, do not make and subscribe any separate oath or affirmation.
- When the Speaker presides over the House, the Deputy Speaker is like any other ordinary member of the House.
- The Deputy Speaker is entitled to a regular salary and allowance fixed by Parliament, and charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Since the 11th Lok Sabha, there has been a consensus that the Speaker comes from the ruling party/alliance and the post of Deputy Speaker goes to the main opposition party.
- Up to the 10th Lok Sabha, both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were usually from the ruling party.
- Articles 122 and 212 of the Constitution, restrict the role of the courts from judging the validity of the proceedings of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies on grounds of alleged irregularity of procedures.
Is Speaker’s decision on money bill final?
In a recent case, where Aadhar bill was passed through money bill passage came under the scrutiny of Supreme Court. In this case Supreme Court justified the passage of the Aadhaar Bill as a money bill in Parliament, but noted that the decision of the Speaker to classify a bill as money bill is amenable to judicial review. This decision of Supreme Court has opened up the gates for scrutiny of the speaker’s decision as per the powers given under article 110. Notably under article 110, Constitution gives power to the Lok Sabha Speaker to take a final call if questions arise about whether a Bill is money bill or not. Money bills are those that contain provisions dealing with all or any matters specified in article 110 of the constitution. Speaker’s decision on anti-defection acts In Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu and Others (1991), an SC Constitution Bench declared that the Speaker's decision was subject to judicial review. Till the time the proceedings of defections under schedule Xth is not initiated, the matter of defection remains out of the court’s jurisdiction. The moment anti-defection proceedings under the Xth schedule is taken up and the role of the speaker becomes that of the adjudicator, the order of the speaker can be taken up to the appropriate court for scrutiny. To stall the judicial scrutiny, there have been several instances where the speaker did not initiate proceedings under schedule Xth for a very long duration. Read