Governance, Indian Polity & Constitution
Context: The 17th Lok Sabha has completed three years and seven months of its term; however, the House has not elected a Deputy Speaker.
Presiding officers of Lok Sabha:
- Speaker and Deputy Speaker: There are two presiding officers for the Lok Sabha, namely the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, who are elected by the members of the House.
- Constitutional provisions: Under Article 93 of the Constitution, as soon as the House meets after the election these two presiding officers are elected one after the other.
- Article 178 contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.
- Officers of Parliament: The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are described in the Constitution as officers of Parliament, which signifies their importance in the parliamentary system.
About Deputy Speaker:
Article 93 of Constitution of India:
- The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respective Speaker and Deputy Speaker thereof and, so often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member to be Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may be.
Election: In the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Indian Parliament, both Presiding Officers – the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are elected from among its members by a simple majority of members present and voting in the House.
Independent from Speaker: The Deputy Speaker is independent of the Speaker, not subordinate to him, as both are elected from among the members of the House.
- When he presides over a sitting, he has all the powers of a Speaker.
Gaining importance: In addition to presiding over the House in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker chaired committees both inside and outside of Parliament.
Ensures continuity of Speaker’s office:
- The Deputy Speaker ensures the continuity of the Speakers office by acting as the Speaker when the office becomes vacant:
- Illness, or
- by death, or
- because of resignation or
- any other reason.
- When the Speaker’s post falls vacant, it is the Deputy Speaker who assumes all the powers of the Speaker and exercises both legislative powers and administrative powers.
Presiding officer in specific cases: When a resolution for removal of the Speaker is up for discussion, the Constitution specifies that the Deputy Speaker presides over the proceedings of the House.
- A Deputy Speaker is also the ex-officio chairman of some committees by virtue of his position.
From ruling party or opposition:
- In the case of the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, the position has varied over the years.
- Until the fourth Lok Sabha, the Congress held both the Speaker and Deputy Speakers positions.
- In the fifth Lok Sabha, whose term was extended due to the Emergency, an independent member, Shri G G Swell, was elected the Deputy Speaker.
- The tradition for the post of the Deputy Speaker going to the Opposition party started during the term of Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s government.
Historical background of Deputy Speaker:
- The history of the office of Deputy Speaker goes back to the government of India Act of 1919 when he was called Deputy President as the Speaker was known as the president of the central legislative assembly.
- This tradition was continued after Independence, when a Deputy Speaker was elected to chair, besides the Speaker, the meetings of the Constituent Assembly (Legislative).
- The first Speaker was G V Mavlankar and the first Deputy Speaker was M Ananthasayanam Ayyangar who was elected by the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) on September 3, 1948.
- Later under the new Constitution, he was elected the first Deputy Speaker of the House of the people on May 28, 1952.
- Thereafter, every Lok Sabha had a Deputy Speaker who would be elected after a few days after the election of the Speaker.
Power of Deputy Speaker:
- The Deputy Speaker has the same power as the Speaker when he presides over a sitting of the House.
- Similarly no appeal lies to the Speaker against a ruling given by the Deputy Speaker.
- So the Speaker is powerless in the matter of revising or overruling a decision of the Deputy Speaker.
- Under Article 95(1) of the Constitution, the Deputy Speaker gets all the powers of the Speaker when the office of the Speaker is vacant, so the Deputy Speaker can also determine the petitions relating to disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.
- Although the Deputy Speaker gets to exercise these powers only in the absence of the Speaker his decisions are final and binding when he gives a ruling.
- In the eventuality of the Speaker remaining absent for a longer time due to illness or otherwise the government will have to grapple with the unpredictability of a ruling or an adverse decision by a Deputy Speaker who comes from the Opposition ranks.
Need for Deputy Speaker:
- Unprecedented Move: It is quite unfortunate that the Deputy Speaker has not been appointed for more than two years now (for the first time in the history of independent India).
- Decreasing Discussion in recent times: Parliament is viewed as a temple of deliberation and discussion. But, in the recent Lok Sabha Monsoon session, there has been zero discussion on any policy issue.
- Falling productivity: In 2020-21, Lok Sabha functioned for 34 days while Rajya Sabha functioned for 33 days. It was the lowest ever in India.
- Winter session 2020 was not conducted completely. Even Budget Session 2021 was reduced by two weeks because of election campaigning.
- Hasty legislation: No bill was passed to the Parliamentary Committee. Every bill introduced in this Monsoon Session was passed within the same session.
- Surprisingly, 18 bills were passed in Lok Sabha with only one bill being discussed over 15 minutes.
Issues associated with the role of Deputy Speaker:
- No specific timeline for Deputy Speaker’s appointment: Article 93 for Lok Sabha and Article 178 for state Assemblies state that these Houses “shall, as soon as may be”, choose two of its members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
- The Constitution and the Assembly rules do not specify a time-frame for filling a vacancy in the post.
- Maintaining Neutrality: It would be unrealistic to expect a Presiding Officer to completely abjure all party considerations while functioning as there are structural issues regarding the manner of appointment of the Speaker and his/her tenure in office.
The office of the Deputy Speaker is as important as the office of the speaker. The constitution has created this office for the smooth functioning of the house. Therefore, in the present circumstances, the post of Deputy Speaker is desirable to maintain neutrality and smooth functioning of the Parliament.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) With reference to Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, consider the following statements:
- As per the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, the election of Deputy Speaker shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix.
- There is a mandatory provision that the election of a candidate as Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha shall be from either the principal opposition party or the ruling party.
- The Deputy Speaker has the same power as of the Speaker when presiding over the sitting of the House and no appeal lies against his rulings.
- The well-established parliamentary practice regarding the appointment of Deputy Speaker is that the motion is moved by the Speaker and duly seconded by the Prime Minister.
Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
- 3 and 4 only
- 2 and 4 only
Q.2) Consider the following statements:
- In the election for Lok Sabha or State Assembly, the winning candidate must get at least 50 percent of the votes polled, to be declared elected.
- According to the provisions laid down in the Constitution of India, in Lok Sabha, the Speaker’s post goes to the majority party and the Deputy Speaker’s to the Opposition.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (2017)
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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