Study Notes: Speaker of the Lok Sabha

By Anish Sinha 11 Minutes Read

After such an interesting 18th Lok Sabha election, this time again Om Birla managed to get the position of speaker of Lok Sabha. But this time the situation was not the same as earlier. The office of speaker of Lok Sabha has gained much attention due to tension between ruling coalition party and opposition on the question of appointment of speaker of the Lok Sabha. NDA picked Om Birla for next term speaker. But unlike last time, when he was elected as speaker with consensus of full majority and opposition did not vote against it; this time indecision took place when senior congress Member of Parliament, K. Suresh, filed nomination for the Lok Sabha speaker post as INDIA bloc’s candidate. This incident created a history of Indian politics as this will be the first time in the history of India that an election is being called for the Speaker of the lower house. If we trace back then we can record that since Independence, the Lok Sabha Speaker and Deputy Speaker have been chosen through consensus between the ruling party and the opposition.

History of the post of Speaker

India reflects parliamentary democracy, with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha presiding over legislative proceedings. In a parliamentary democracy, the people elect legislators to a legislative parliament, which then enacts laws and makes national policy choices for betterment and welfare of people. The Speaker of a parliamentary democracy stands for the freedom and dignity of the House as well as the liberty and freedom of the nation. However, the speaker’s position has come under fire for continuing to be biased in favor of the party in power and favoring certain political parties.

If we trace the history then we can conclude that the office 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 Deputy President respectively and the same nomenclature continued till 1947, later government of India act 1935, amended the terminology of President and Deputy President to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively and is continued till date.

Constitutionalism of speaker

The Lower House of Parliament i.e., Lok Sabha, is India’s highest legislative body and the constitutional head of the Lok Sabha in India is speaker of the Lower House, who also Ad Hoc deals with the winning party leader of the House. The Lok Sabha and state legislatures receive its framework from Article 93 and Article 178, respectively, which state that two members should be present there to serve as Speaker and Deputy Speaker “as soon as may be ” following the opening of the House.

Constitutional framework for the Speaker

  • Article 93 of the Indian Constitution stipulated that “The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively 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.”;
  • Article 94 outlines the procedures for vacation, resignation, and removal from the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker;
  • Article 95 provides provisions regarding the “power of the Deputy Speaker or other person to perform the duties of the office of, or to act as, Speaker.”;
  • Article 96 specifies the powers of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker during consideration of a resolution for their removal from office. It says, “The Speaker or the Deputy Speaker is not to preside while a resolution for his removal from office is under consideration.
  • Article 97 provides for the “salaries and allowances of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.”

Election of Speaker

The election of the Speaker is one of the newly formed Lok Sabha’s first actions. A simple majority of the members present and voting in the House elected the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the newly formed Lok Sabha from among its members with voice voting.

In Lok Sabha and state legislatures, the President/Governor decides a specific date for the election of the Speaker, and it is the Speaker who decides the date for the election of the Deputy Speaker and legislators of the respective Houses vote to elect one among themselves to these offices. Apart from this constitution nowhere talks anything about a time limit and doesn’t even discuss the process for these elections and so it is left to the legislatures to decide how to conduct these elections.

In nutshell there are two methods for the appointment of a Lok Sabha speaker, first when the ruling party nominates a candidate and second is on a formal consultation of the ruling party with the opposition party. The second one is the least practiced method.

Functions and Powers of Speaker

Within the nominal and constitutionally fixed year, speaker is vested with immense administrative and discretionary powers, which includes:

  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha conducts the business in house by allowing the moving of various kinds of motions and resolutions such as a motion of no confidence, motion of adjournment, motion of censure and calling attention notice as per the rules and also decides whether a bill is a Money bill or not.[1]
  • The Speaker is vested with power so that he/she can maintain discipline and decorum in the house and can punish a member for unruly behaviors with respect to law after suspending them as per constitution.
  • The Lok Sabha Speaker is the final authority on the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution of India, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Lok Sabha[2], and the parliamentary proceedings within the House. Their rulings on such matters are binding on the members of the House.
  • The Speaker presides over joint sittings of both houses of Parliament, which are summoned by the President to resolve deadlocks between the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on a particular bill.[3]
  • The Speaker acts as the ex-officio chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Group (IPG)[4], which serves as a link between the Parliament of India and the various parliaments of the world. The Speaker also chairs the conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in the country.

Static Notes on Lok Sabha Speaker

  • Longest serving speaker: Balram Jakhar (9 years and 329 days)
  • First speaker: G.V Mavlankar (From 1952 to 1956)
  • First female speaker: Meira Kumari (June 3, 2009)
  • Shortest serving speaker: Bali Ram Bhagat

Conclusion

Position of Speaker of Lok Sabha becomes vital in many senses although the speaker comes from a particular background. So, it becomes a matter of utmost importance to be unbiased while discharging the duty of the same. In nutshell, the role of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha stands as a beacon of impartiality and integrity within the tumultuous realm of Indian parliamentary democracy.

The Speaker is tasked with upholding the sanctity of debates, ensuring procedural fairness, and fostering bipartisan cooperation, the Speaker embodies the spirit of democratic governance. Beyond the ceremonial duties, their influence extends into shaping legislative outcomes and preserving the essence of democratic ideals, and if we look towards the future, the significance of this office remains pivotal in maintaining the robustness of India’s parliamentary democracy, standing firm as a pillar of legislative integrity and democratic ethos.


[1] The Constitution of India, art. 110(3).

[2] Rule book of Lok Sabha (13.8): Parliament Digital Library.

[3] The Constitution of India, art. 108.

[4] Official site of Indian parliamentary group, https://ipg.nic.in/AboutUs.aspx#:~:text=The%20Speaker%2C%20Lok%20Sabha%20is,officio%20President%20of%20the%20Group.

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