Vacant Deputy Speaker Post

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    • Recently, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and five states- Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand over the failure to elect a Deputy Speaker.

    About

    • A Bench sought responses on a PIL that contends that not electing a Deputy Speaker to the 17th (present) Lok Sabha, is “against the letter and spirit of the Constitution ”.
      • The PIL said that as per Article 93 and Article 178 of the Constitution, it was mandatory for state legislatures to conduct elections for the post of Deputy speaker.
    • The position of the Union government on the current vacancy in the post of Deputy Speaker.
      • The Treasury benches have maintained there is no “immediate requirement” for a Deputy Speaker as “bills are being passed and discussions are being held” as normal in the House.

    Institution of Deputy Speaker

    • Historical Background:
      • The posts of Speaker and Deputy Speaker originated in India in 1921 under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford Reforms).
      • Sachidanand Sinha was appointed by the Governor-General of India as the first Deputy Speaker of the central legislative assembly in  1921.

    Constitutional Provision regarding Office of Deputy Speaker

    • Article 93 of the Constitution says that the House of the People (Lok Sabha) shall choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
    • Article 178 contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the State Legislative Assembly
    • General practice of electing the Deputy Speaker:
      • In general, the practice in both Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies has been to elect the Speaker during the first session of the new House — usually on the third day after the oath-taking and affirmations over the first two days.
      • The election of the Deputy Speaker usually takes place in the second session and is generally not delayed further in the absence of genuine and unavoidable constraints.
      • Rule 8 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha says the election of Deputy Speaker “shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix”.
      • The Deputy Speaker is elected once a motion proposing his name is carried in the House.
    • Term of Office of Deputy Speaker:
      • Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker remains in the office usually during the life of the Lok Sabha
      • However, he may vacate his office earlier in any of the following three cases –
        • if he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha;
        • if he resigns by writing to the Speaker; and
        • if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then members of the Lok Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
    • Powers of Deputy Speaker:
      • The Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker’s office when it is vacant.
      • He also presides over the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, in case the Speaker is absent from such a sitting.
      • He can speak in the House, participate in its proceedings and vote on any question before the House.
      • Key Facts about role of the Deputy Speaker:
        • Whenever the Deputy speaker is appointed as a member of a parliamentary committee, he automatically becomes its chairman.
        • The Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker. He is directly responsible to the House.
        • When the Speaker presides over the House, the Deputy Speaker is like any other ordinary member of the House.
    • Can the courts intervene in cases of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?
      • Article 122(1) says: “The validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.”
      • However, the courts do have jurisdiction to at least inquire into why there has been no election to the post of Deputy Speaker since the Constitution does envisage an election “as soon as may be”.

    Source:IE