Q5. Discuss the role of Presiding Officers of state legislatures in maintaining order and impartiality in conducting legislative work and in facilitating best democratic practices. (10m)
Article 178 and Article 182 mentions the office of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of legislative assembly and Chairman and Deputy Chairman of legislative council, respectively.
Maintaining order and impartiality in legislative work
- Maintaining decorum on the floor of the house: Presiding officers have powers to call names of members, expel members for unruly behaviour, and adjourn proceedings in case of disruption.
- E.g.- Suspension of 12 MLAs in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
- Impartial decision making: The Presiding officer ensures participation and opportunities of all members, regardless of their party affiliation
- E.g. former Kerala speaker, N Sakthan as presiding officer ensured strict adherence to Parliamentary rules, by allowing members of opposition to the party to freely debate on key policy issues.
- Fair allocation of Time to different political parties
- Appointment of members to different parliamentary committees
- Classifying bills: The Speaker of Legislative assembly has the authority to certify a bill as a money bill.
- Impartial decision making on disqualification of members
- Adoption/rejection of motions in the house
Facilitating Democratic practices
- Ensure debate and discussion on key issues of policy
- Promote Transparency by upholding true spirit of Anti-Defection Law
- Conflict resolution between political parties on important bills
- Regulating the debate on the floor of the house and ensuring that unparliamentary language is restricted.
Dominance of ruling parties in appointment of presiding officers in state legislatures often obstructs the impartial and independent functioning of presiding officers. So, a political consensus on making the offices of presiding officers politically independent would go a long way in ensuring democratic functioning of state legislatures.
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