[Solved] Once a speaker, Always a speaker’! Do you think the practice should be adopted to impart objectivity to the office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha? What could be its implications for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? (UPSC GS-2 Mains 2020)

The Indian System of Government follows the Westminster Model, the Parliamentary proceedings of the country are headed by a presiding officer, who is called the Speaker.

  • The constitution provides that the Speaker’s salary and allowances are not to be voted by the Parliament and are to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Thus ensuring his Independence. Indian Judiciary acts as arbiter of Speaker’s act if he acts as a judicial authority like in defection cases.

Once a speaker, Always a speaker

The position of the Speaker is a position of great prestige and dignity. In the UK, there is a convention that once a Speaker, always a Speaker. It means that a Speaker’s constituency is unchallenged. Once a person is appointed as a Speaker he gives formal resignation from his political parties.

India should adopt such practice for benefit of objectivity and impartiality in parliamentary business.

Implication for Impartial and Independent Speaker on Parliamentary business

  • The Speaker represents the dignity and the freedom of the House and because the House represents the country, the speaker in a way becomes the symbol of the country’s freedom and liberty.
  • Impartial use of power to define Money bill will safeguard the legislative role of parliament
  • Powers to disqualify will be used to uphold the law not to support politics, it will make parliament and assemblies stable not prone to disruption and misuse by politics
  • It will impart objectivity to law making in terms of time allocated for various speaker, question hour etc, making the government accountable for its acts
  • It will also ensure that relevant bills are sent to parliamentary committees to further in-depth deliberations, thus it will enhance the quality of law making

Thus, we can say an Independent speaker will increase the deliberative potential of parliament, will keep legislature strong and enforce accountability through answerable executive.

Connecting dots…

  • In the UK, the Speaker of the House of Commons, as the chief officer and highest authority, must remain politically unbiased all the time.
  • In India, though the Office of the Speaker holds a crucial importance in its parliamentary democracy, which is looked upon as the true guardian of the customs of parliamentary democracy and symbolises the dignity and power of the House, the standing “once a speaker, always a speaker” could not be introduced.
  • The Speaker couldn’t be over the political relations and a specific arrangement of political convictions in India.
  • In the UK, Speakers normally stay unopposed by the major ideological groups. In India, regardless of whether a part having a place with the decision party is chosen the Speaker or the decision party names its up-and-comer, he isn’t constantly chosen unopposed.
  • That implies he isn’t above party legislative issues and needs sponsorship, association, and backing of the gathering, which may influence his broad capacities to act in managerial, legal and administrative issue falling under his all-inclusive space.

Further reading…

T he office of speaker is considered to be guardian of the lower house, he maintains decorum, discipline and effective running of parliamentary business.

Although India has not adopted the UK model of speaker election in practice it follows the same as it is expected that the speaker should dissociate from the party and can also resign from the part after being elected as the speaker though will not be disqualified under the anti-defection law.

In recent times the office of speaker is criticised because of its political biases, matters related to declaration of money bills, not formation of parliamentary committees.

For instance, Meira kumar for not discussing the report of PAC related coal block scam, Sumitra Mahajan related to money bills and discriminatory  behaviour in the house. But speakers like GV Malvankar, Ayangar, PA  Sangma had maintained their independence and been apolitical.

with ‘once the speaker always a speaker” i.e. independent nature of speaker there will be:-

  • More deliberation and discussion in the house.
  • Voices of opposition will be heard.
  • Process and procedures will be fulfilled.
  • Democratization of society it is only in recent times that the office is being criticised because of the overall decline in the quality of politics.
  • So, it is the executive who should more follow and respect the conventions thereby there will be effective decision making and efficient running of parliamentary business which itslef help the executive in the running of government and fulfilling credit of largest

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