How are Rajya Sabha members punished for misconduct in the House?

Source: Indian Express

Relevance: To understand the suspension of the members of Rajya Sabha

Synopsis: There have been incidents of misconduct inside the house. The recent incident raises the question of action that should be taken against such members.

Introduction:
  • There are speculations in the Rajya Sabha (RS) over the punishment to MP for the misconduct.
  • Chairman has the power to conduct smooth proceedings of the house.
  • If any rules are violated, the Chairman has the power to initiate disciplinary action.
  • But the Rules of the House do not empower Parliament to inflict any punishment on its members other than suspension for creating disorder in the House.
Suspension rules of RS

Rule 256 of the Rajya Sabha’s Rules of Procedure: Specifies the acts of misconduct.

  • Under this, an MP can be suspended for disregarding the authority of the Chair or wilfully abuse the rules or obstruct the business of the house.
  • However, the power to suspend an MP is vested in the house, not the chairman. The chairman only names the member, while the Parliamentary Affairs minister or any other minister moves the motion for suspending the member.
Terms of suspension
  • The maximum period of suspension is for the remainder of the session
  • Suspended members cannot enter the chamber or attend the meetings of the committees
  • He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission
  • He loses the right to get a reply to his questions
 The procedure followed
  • When the misconduct is noticed by the chair
    • Punishment or punishing action is usually taken immediately. Punishing members long after the occurrence of misconduct is rare.
  • For the acts of misconduct by the MPs outside the House
    • A privilege committee is constituted.
    • The privilege committee investigates the matter and recommends the course of action, and the House acts on it.

Appointment of the special committee

  • These ad-hoc committees are appointed only to investigate serious misconduct by MPs outside the house.
  • These are usually appointed when the misconduct is very severe and the house is deciding to expel the member.
  • No special committee is required to go into what happens before the eyes of the presiding officer in the House. As per the rules of the House, they need to be dealt with then and there.

Some incidents from the Past

  • The first case of expulsion occurred in 1951. A committee was appointed to investigate the conduct of an MP who accepted financial benefits from business houses to canvass support for them in the government and Parliament. He was found guilty and was therefore expelled
  • Another committee was appointed in 2005 to inquire into the issue of MPs accepting money for raising questions in Parliament. The MPs linked to this matter were expelled.
Way forward

The rules do not grant any other power than suspension. It is time to tighten such rules for misconduct inside the temple of democracy.

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