Role of the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha

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The Monsoon session of Parliament, which got delayed by several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic has begun recently. Similar to the last many sessions, Parliamentary disruptions once again became the common feature of Indian Parliamentary proceedings. A no-confidence motion against the Deputy Chairman is a first in Parliament and it is also an event which stood out in this Monsoon session of the Parliament. Though the Monsoon Session of Parliament began with the election for the post of deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha still lacks a deputy speaker. The post has been vacant for the last 456 days and is a record. In this context, let’s examine the role of Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha in Parliamentary proceedings in a detailed manner.

Mind map of Role of the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha

What is the constitutional provision for the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha?

  • The Deputy Chairman is a constitutional position created under Article 89 of the Constitution, which specifies that Rajya Sabha shall choose one of its MPs to be the Deputy Chairman as often as the position becomes vacant.

Who can be the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha?

  • The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha itself from amongst its members.
  • Whenever the office of the Deputy Chairman falls vacant, the Rajya Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.

How is the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha getting elected?

  • Any Rajya Sabha MP can submit a motion proposing the name of a colleague for this constitutional position to be elected as the Deputy Chairman.
  • The motion has to be seconded by another MP. Also, the member moving the motion has to submit a declaration signed by the MP whose name she/he is proposing stating that the MP is willing to serve as the Deputy Chairperson if elected.
  • Only one motion is allowed to move or second by one MP. Then the majority of the House decides who gets elected as the Deputy Chairperson.
  • However, if the political parties arrive at a consensus candidate, then that MP will be unanimously elected as the Deputy Chairman.

What is the tenure of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha?

  • They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Rajya Sabha or they resign.

What are the roles and powers that can a Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha assuming?

  • The deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha performs the duties of the Chairman’s office when it is vacant or when the Vice-President acts as President.
  • She/he also acts as the Chairman when the chairman is absent from sitting of the house.
  • Thus the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha plays a critical role in ensuring the smooth running of the House.

Is Deputy Chairman subordinate to Chairman?

  • Deputy Chairman is not subordinate to the Chairman and he is directly responsible to the Rajya Sabha
  • Also She/he is entitled to a regular salary and allowance which are fixed by Parliament and charged on the Consolidated Fund of India in a similar way it has been done for the Chairman and are not subject to the annual vote of Parliament.

Who decides the salaries and allowances of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha?

  • The salaries and allowances of the Deputy Chairman are determined by Parliament.

Can Deputy Chairman cast vote?

  • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha can exercise the casting vote when a tie occurs in voting in Rajya Sabha similar to the Chairman.
  • The Deputy Chairman cannot exercise the casting vote when a resolution for his removal is under consideration of the house.

Is Deputy Chairman and Vice-Chairman the same?

  • The deputy chairman and vice chairman of the Rajya Sabha are not the same people.
  • The vice-chairman presides over the council when the deputy chairman and chairman are not able to dispense their duties.
  • From time to time, the Chairman shall nominate from amongst the members of the Council a panel of not more than six Vice-Chairmen, any one of whom may preside over the Council in the absence of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman whenever requested by the Chairman, or in his absence, by the Deputy Chairman.

What are the grounds on which Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha vacates his office?

  • According to the Article 90 (c) of the Indian Constitution, the Deputy Chairman vacates his office in any of the following three cases:
    1. If he ceases to be a member of the Rajya Sabha.
    2. If he resigns by writing to the Chairman.
    3. If he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Rajya Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.

What made the opposition to move a No-Confidence against the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman recently?

  • Recently, two controversial farm bills were passed by the parliament amid an unprecedented uproar.
  • The main allegations of the opposition are that the Deputy Chairman “attempted to have the bills passed in haste and without application of mind, circumvented all demands for proper voting by Division and violated all COVID-19 norms by not providing enough time for sanitisation.”
  • Over the allegation, around 47 members of opposition parties moved a no-confidence motion against the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman.

What is the constitutional provision for the post of Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha?

  • Article 93 of the Constitution talks about both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the lower house of parliament.
  • According to Article 93, The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker thereof and, so often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member to be Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may be.

Who can be the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha?

  • Usually, the Deputy Speaker is elected amongst the members of the Lok Sabha at the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the General elections.

How is the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha getting elected?

  • Similar to the Speaker, Deputy Speaker is elected by MPs of the house by simple majority.
  • Election of Deputy Speaker is done after the election of the Speaker.
  • The date of election of Deputy Speaker is fixed by the Speaker.
  • It is by convention that the position of Deputy Speaker is offered to the opposition party in India.

What is the tenure of the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha?

  • They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Lok Sabha or they resign.

What are the roles and powers that can a Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha assuming?

  • In case of the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker presides over the sessions of the Lok Sabha and conducts the business in the house.
  • She/he decides whether a bill is a money bill or a non-money bill.
  • She/he maintains discipline and decorum in the house and can punish a member for unruly the behaviour by suspending him/her.
  • She/he permits the moving of various kinds of motions and resolutions like the motion of no confidence, motion of adjournment, motion of censure and calling the attention notice.

Is Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha subordinate to Speaker?

  • Deputy speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker and is directly responsible to the Lok Sabha.
  • Also She/he is entitled to a regular salary and allowance which are fixed by Parliament and charged on the Consolidated Fund of India in a similar way it has been done for the Chairman and are not subject to the annual vote of Parliament.

Who decides the salaries and allowances of Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha?

  • Similar to the Speaker, the salaries and allowances of the Deputy Speaker are determined by Parliament.

Can Deputy Speaker cast vote?

  • The Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha can exercise the casting vote when a tie occurs in voting in Lok Sabha similar to the Speaker.
  • The Deputy Speaker cannot exercise the casting vote when a resolution for his removal is under consideration of the house.

What are the grounds on which Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha vacates his office?

  • A member wishing to give notice of a resolution, under clause (c) of Article 94 of the Constitution, for the removal of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker shall do so in writing to the Secretary-General and shall furnish the full text of such resolution.
  • On receipt of a notice, a motion for leave to move the resolution shall be entered in the list of business in the name of the member concerned, on a day fixed by the Speaker, provided that the day so fixed shall be any day after fourteen days from the date of the receipt of notice of the resolution.
  • So that such a resolution may be admissible, it shall satisfy the following conditions:

1) It shall be specific for the charges.

2) It shall be clearly and precisely expressed.

3) It shall not contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions, imputations or defamatory statements.

  • He/She can be removed from office by a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha by an effective majority of its members.

Why Modi govt still does not have a Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker?

  • Given that the Modi government is not willing to let any staunch opposition party get any foothold in the legislative business in the Lok Sabha, its failure to find a willing non-ally friend has caused the delay in the election of a Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • Also, the conduct of the Lok Sabha proceedings is not hampered by the absence of the Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • There is a constitution-mandated panel of 10 members to preside over the proceedings of the Lok Sabha in the absence of the Speaker.
  • Moreover, there is no constitutional obligation that Lok Sabha has to appoint a Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • Article 93 of the Constitution provides for the election of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker but it says as soon as may be.
  • While the Speaker is elected at the earliest, the deputy position has taken time in the past to fulfil.
  • The constitutional office of the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha is more symbolic of parliamentary democracy than some real authority.
  • This gives the Modi government additional reason to keep the issue at bay until it finds a suitable political equation.

Conclusion

  • Though the Office of the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman in India is the living and dynamic institutions which deal with the actual needs and problems of the respective houses of the Parliament in the performance of their functions, To maintain their continuity in performing their functions even in their absence, The office of the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and Deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha is needed.
  • Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and Deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha are the constitutional and ceremonial head of the respective House in the absence of Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha Chairman respectively.
  • They are also the principal spokesperson of the House. It is in him/her that the responsibility of conducting the business of the respective House in a manner befitting the place of the institution in a representative democracy is invested in the absence of the Speaker or Chairman of the House.
  • The founding fathers of our Constitution had recognized the importance of this Office in our democratic set-up and it was this recognition that guided them in establishing this Office as one of the prominent and dignified ones in the scheme of governance of the country.

Practice Question for Mains

  1. Examine how the convention of electing the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha from the opposition ensures a fair representation of them (250Words)
Referred Sources

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nda-candidate-harivansh-narayan-singh-re-elected-as-rajya-sabha-deputy-chairman/article32601308.ece

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https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/rs_rule/electionhdc.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajya_Sabha#Composition

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-renews-campaign-seeks-lok-sabha-deputy-speaker-post/article32564797.ece

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/house-government-to-take-call-on-deputy-speaker-election-ls-speaker-om-birla/article32571706.ece

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