Suspension of MPs: the rules, and the powers of presiding officers

Source: The post is based on the article “Suspension of MPs: the rules, and the powers of presiding officers” published in Indian Express on 29th July 2022.

What is the News?

The two houses of Parliament have suspended 27 MPs between them. The Rajya Sabha suspensions are for the remaining part of this week and those from Lok Sabha are for the rest of the session.

Who do MPs disrupt Parliament?

There are four broad reasons leading to disorder in legislatures: 1) Lack of time available to MPs for raising important matters, 2) Unresponsive attitude of the government and retaliatory posture by Treasury benches, 3) deliberate disruption by parties for political or publicity purposes and 4) absence of prompt action against MPs disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

Who can suspend MPs for disruption?

Rules for ensuring the smooth functioning of Parliament have been unchanged since 1952. 

First, the presiding officers can direct an MP to withdraw from the House for any disorderly conduct. If the MP continues disrupting the House, the presiding officer can “name” the legislator. After that, the House can move a motion to suspend the MP until the end of the session. These powers are common to the presiding officers of both Houses.

However, in 2001, Lok Sabha changed its rules to give the Speaker more powers. As per this new rule, the Speaker can “name” an MP, who shall then automatically stand suspended for five days or the remaining part of the session. This rule removes the need for the House to pass a motion for suspension. 

Rajya Sabha has not incorporated this provision in its procedures.

Can courts intervene in a matter of suspension of MPs?

Article 122 of the Constitution says parliamentary proceedings cannot be questioned before a court: 

However, in some cases, courts have intervened in the procedural functioning of legislatures. For example, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed a resolution in its 2021 Monsoon Session suspending 12 MLAs for a year.

The matter came before the Supreme Court which held that the resolution was ineffective in law beyond the remainder of the Monsoon Session.

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