Illegal, irrational, unconstitutional: The problem with recent suspensions of MPs

Source: The post is based on the article “Illegal, irrational, unconstitutional: The problem with recent suspensions of MPs” published in “The Indian Express” on 18th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

News: In this article author discusses the rules for suspending members from India’s Parliament if they disrupt its proceedings. Recently, suspensions, including key leaders, have been longer than usual, going against traditional norms and rules. These extended suspensions are controversial and might be unconstitutional. The author suggests finding better solutions to manage disagreements in Parliament.

What are the methods of suspending members from India’s Parliament?

Process of Suspending in Lok Sabha:

In the Lok Sabha, members causing disruptions can be suspended under Rule 374. When a member consistently obstructs business or shows disregard to the Chair’s authority, the Chair has the right to name them.

Once the member is named, the government introduces a motion for their suspension. If the motion passes, the member gets suspended.

For example, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress party, was recently suspended using this method.

Process of Suspending in Rajya Sabha:

In the Rajya Sabha, a similar procedure is followed under Rule 256. The Chair identifies any member causing undue disruptions. Following this, a motion is presented to the House for their suspension. If the House approves the motion, the member is suspended.

Recent instances include the suspensions of members like Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha.

Rule Used for Suspending:

Rules of the Houses of Parliament are framed under Article 118 of the Constitution and these can operate only subject to the provisions of the Constitution.

The standard procedure under both rules (374 and 256) dictates that suspension should typically last until the end of the ongoing session.

What are the implications of suspending members from India’s Parliament?

Disruption to Proceedings: Members can’t participate, potentially hindering legislative work.

Legal Implications: In 2022, the Supreme Court, in the Ashish Shelar vs Maharashtra Legislative Assembly case, declared suspensions beyond rule-prescribed periods unconstitutional. The plea of procedural irregularities under Article 122 was rejected. It was seen as substantial illegality, not just procedural error.

Deviation from Rules: Recent cases like those of Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury show suspensions extending beyond typical limits or pending investigations, against traditional norms.

Challenge to Democracy: Over-reliance on suspensions might stifle opposition voices, affecting democratic discussions.

Need for Conflict Resolution: Such suspensions highlight the need for better methods to handle disagreements in Parliament.

What actions should be taken?

Adhere to Established Rules: Parliament should strictly follow Rules 374 (Lok Sabha) and 256 (Rajya Sabha) when suspending members.

Avoid Extended Suspensions: Suspensions should not exceed the ongoing session’s duration. Cases like Sanjay Singh’s extended suspension go against this principle.

Review Recent Changes: The recent indefinite suspensions, like that of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, should be revisited to ensure they align with constitutional norms.

Seek Judicial Guidance: Referring to the Ashish Shelar vs Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (2022) decision can help clarify suspension durations’ legality.

Promote Dialogue: Political leaders should prioritize dialogue over suspensions to address disagreements in Parliament.

Print Friendly and PDF