Unparliamentary words

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    In News

    • Recently, ahead of the Monsoon Session a row has erupted over a 50-page compilation of words deemed unfit for use in Parliament.

    About the recent controversy

    • Coverage: The new list has words and phrases disallowed not only in the Indian Parliament, but also in various state assemblies, as well as some parliaments of other countries.
    • Both the houses: It includes words that have been expunged from the records in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha over the last few years.
    • There are phrases and words in thousands both in English and in Indian languages that are considered “unparliamentary”.

    The rules/ Constitutional provisions 

    • Discretion of the Speaker: Exactly what constitutes unparliamentary language is generally left to the discretion of the Speaker of the House.
      • The Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairperson of Rajya Sabha have the job of keeping such words out of Parliament’s records.
        • The Lok Sabha Secretariat has brought out a bulky tome titled ‘Unparliamentary Expressions’.
        • The last such book was published in 2009.
        • The state legislatures too are guided mainly by the same book, first compiled in 1999.
        • Source: references were taken from debates and phrases declared unparliamentary by the pre-Independence Central Legislative Assembly, the Constituent Assembly of India, the Provisional Parliament, the first to the tenth Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, state legislatures, and Commonwealth parliaments like that of the United Kingdom.
    • Article 105(2) of the Constitution: lays down that no Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof.
      • MPs do not enjoy the freedom to say whatever they want inside the House. Whatever an MP says is subject to the discipline of the Rules of Parliament.
    • Rule 380 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha says: If the Speaker is of opinion that words have been used in debate which are defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified, the Speaker may, while exercising discretion order that such words be expunged from the proceedings of the House.
    • Rule 381 says: The portion of the proceedings of the House so expunged shall be marked by asterisks and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as follows: ‘Expunged as ordered by the Chair’.

    How is the list prepared?

    • Presiding officer: If a member uses a word that could be unparliamentary or indecent and hurts the decorum or dignity of the House, the head of the reporting section sends it to the Speaker or the presiding officer citing relevant rules and precedence with a recommendation to expunge them.
      • The Speaker has the discretion under Rule 380 to expunge the word or usage.
    • A compilation of words removed from the records, along with reasons, is sent to the Speaker’s office, Sansad TV and the editorial service for information.
    • This editorial service section later prepares a list of all these expressions made in Indian Parliament, the state legislatures and other parliaments to release as the new addition to the existing list.

    Conclusion 

    • Before the television era, the reporters would automatically edit out words.
    • There may be an unparliamentary expression that has not been noticed by the Speaker: Members used to inform the Chair and then remove it from the records after getting an order from the Chair.
      • In the past such compilations have been brought out in 1986, 1992, 1999, 2004 and 2009.
      • After 2018, the list has been uploaded on the Lok Sabha intranet and the MPs portal.
    • The expressions have been added to the list with the main focus being on the lines that had cast aspersions on the chair.
    • No words or phrases have been banned in Parliament and that the members have absolute freedom to express their views. 
      • Members are free to express their views and no one can snatch that right but it should be as per the decorum of Parliament.

    Source:IE