- Maharashtra Legislative Assembly had been without a Speaker for long time.
- The previous Speaker was Nana Patole of the Congress, elected to the post in 2019 following the Assembly elections. Since Patole’s resignation from office in February 2021, Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal Sitaram of the NCP had been at the helm of proceedings in the Legislative Assembly.
Politics over Speaker
- The office of the Speaker in the Maharashtra Assembly was vacant for nearly 17 months, but it was filled up by an election held within two days of a new regime taking over.
- What facilitated Rahul Narvekar’s election was the change of heart on the part of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who had been refusing to fix a date for the election.
- Earlier, governor had been citing the pendency of litigation, related to amendments to the Assembly Rules on the mode of electing a Speaker. The Supreme Court is yet to dispose of an appeal in this matter, the Governor seems to have quietly withdrawn his objection and fixed the date for the Speaker’s election.
- The election took place by open ballot as envisaged by the changed rules..!!!
- Speaker’s chair is was vacant in Maharashtra (Now its filled) and the Deputy Speaker’s position is vacant in several other state legislatures like MP, Rajasthan even in the Lok Sabha.
- In Lok Sabha, the election for Deputy Speaker has not taken place since the beginning of the 17th Lok Sabha in June 2019.
What does the Constitution say?
- Article 93 for Lok Sabha and Article 178 for state Assemblies, state that Lok sabha & respective State legislative assemblies, “shall, as soon as may be”, choose two of its members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
- Note 1: The Constitution neither sets a time limit nor specifies the process for these elections..!!
- Note 2: Constitution leaves it to the legislatures to decide how to hold these elections. (States can bring their assembly rules/By convention they follow LS rules generally).
- Haryana and Uttar Pradesh specify a time-frame for holding the election to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s offices.
- In Haryana, the election of the Speaker has to take place as soon as possible after the election. And then the Deputy Speaker is to be elected within 7 more days.
- Uttar Pradesh has a 15-day limit for an election to the Speaker’s post if it falls vacant during the term of the Assembly. In the case of the Deputy Speaker, the date for the first election is to be decided by the Speaker, and 30 days is given for filling subsequent vacancies.
Who decides the election date?
- In Lok Sabha, the President sets a date for the election of the Speaker.
- In State legislatures, the Governor of respective state sets a date for the election of the Speaker.
- In both LS & SLA, it is the Speaker who decides the date for the election of the Deputy Speaker.
Who can become Speaker?
- There are no specific qualifications prescribed for being elected the Speaker.
- The only requirement is that such a person must be member of the house.
- Usually, a member belonging to the ruling party is elected Speaker.
The Process of election
- Process of election:
- The legislators of the respective Houses vote to elect one among themselves to these offices.
- House elects its presiding officer by a simple majority of members present, who vote in the House.
The Process of removal
- Process of Removal:
- The House can remove the Speaker through a resolution passed by an effective majority (more than 50% of the total strength of the house) as per Articles 94 of the Indian Constitution.
- The Speaker can also be removed if S/he s no longer a member of the house.
- A resolution for removal of speaker/dy Speaker can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
- When a resolution for the removal of the Speaker is under consideration of the House, he/she may be present at the sitting but not preside.
Some important pointers..!!
- Office of the Speaker is a Constitutional Office.
- The Constitution provides that the office of the Speaker should never be empty. So, he continues in office until the beginning of the next House, except in the event of death or resignation.
- The Speaker presides over the House proceedings and joint sittings of the two Houses of Parliament.
- The Speaker’s decision wrt money bill is final.
- Speakers salary is charged on Consolidated fund of India.
- A Speaker uses his/her power to vote, in order to resolve a deadlock.
- By Convention, the Speaker comes from the ruling party and the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha comes from opposition.
- The Speaker also makes decisions regarding disqualification under Anti Defection.
Some important pointers..!!
- Deputy Speaker:
- The Deputy Speaker is independent of the Speaker, not subordinate to him, as both are elected from among the members of the House.
- Deputy Speaker ensures the continuity of the Speakers office by acting as the Speaker when the office becomes vacant.
- Usually, Deputy Speaker is elected in the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the General elections for a term of 5 years from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha. They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Lok Sabha or they resign.
- Deputy speaker is like any other member when not presiding the proceedings of the house.
- Deputy Speaker can be removed from office by a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha by an effective majority (Majority of 50% or more than 50% of total strength of the house).
- Note: Both Speaker /Dy Speaker need not resign from their party posts..!!
Speaker Pro Tem
- Whenever a new house convenes after election, the preceding speaker vacates his office immediately.
- The President appoints a member of the Lok Sabha as the Speaker Pro Tem. Usually, the senior most member is selected for this. The President himself administers oath to the Speaker Pro Tem.
- Pro Tem Speaker presides over the first sitting of the newly-elected house.
- The main responsibility of Pro Tem Speaker is to administer oaths to the new members and to enable the House to elect the new Speaker.