Harsh presiding officers or unruly MPs, who are to blame for spate of suspensions

With over two dozen MPs suspended from Parliament this week for various lengths of time, the spotlight is on the punitive approach of presiding officers under the NDA government. While some argue that the behaviour of opposition MPs in the two Houses of Parliament has greatly degenerated over time, inviting strict action from the chair, others, largely from the opposition camp, say presiding officers are unnecessarily harsh on them.
According to a report, there has been a 170% increase in suspensions since the NDA government came to office in 2014. The report said between the monsoon session in 2006 and February 2014, at least 51 MPs were suspended from the two Houses. The number of suspensions from August 2015 to now stands at at least 139 MPs.
Matters came to a head after a record 19 opposition MPs were suspended from Rajya Sabha on Tuesday for the rest of the week after they continued to disrupt proceedings demanding an immediate discussion on price rise and levy of GST on essential items. They alleged that “democracy has been suspended” in the country. Another MP was supended a day later and three more on Thursday.
The development came after Lok Sabha Speaker Om Prakash Birla suspended four Congress MPs for the rest of the monsoon session on Monday.

mass MP suspensions over the years

‘Deep, dark chamber’
Reacting to the suspensions, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said, “Democracy has been suspended in India. Parliament has been turned into a deep, dark chamber.”
The TMC later tweeted, “You can suspend us but you cannot silence us. Deplorable situation – our MPs are trying to flag people’s issues but they are being suspended. For how long will this go on? The sanctity of Parliament stands heavily compromised.”
Why are MPs suspended?
The presiding officers — Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman — are tasked with maintaining order in the two Houses. If they feel that a member is hindering smooth proceedings in the House, they are empowered to remove the member from the House.
The rules in Lok Sabha
Rule No. 373: The Speaker, if he is of the opinion that the conduct of any member is grossly disorderly, may direct such member to withdraw immediately from the House, and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.
Rule No.374: The Speaker may, if deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.
If a member is so named by the Speaker, the Speaker shall, on a motion being made, forthwith put the question that the member (naming such member) be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session: Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.
Rule 374A: Notwithstanding anything contained in Rules 373 and 374, in the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the well of the House or abusing the rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less: Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
The rules in Rajya Sabha
Rule No.255: The chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House.
Rule 256: The chairman may name a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing” business. In such a situation, the House may adopt a motion suspending the member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session. The House may, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
Members suspended from Lok Sabha – Manickam Tagore, TN Prathapan, Ramya Haridas and Jothimani (Congress).

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