- Constitutional Provisions
- Functions of Deputy Speaker
- Powers of Deputy Speaker
- Significance of Deputy Speaker
The post of Deputy Speaker has been lying vacant since the beginning of the 17th Lok Sabha in May 2019.
- Article 93: The Lok Sabha shall, as soon as possible, choose two members of the House (simple majority) to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker and thereof, 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.
- Article 178 contains the corresponding position for speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative assembly of the state.
Term of Deputy Speaker, vacation of office, and disqualification
- Once elected, a deputy speaker usually continues in office until the dissolution of the house.
- Speaker or deputy speaker vacate her office if she ceases to be member of the house.
- They may also resign or may be removed from office by a resolution of the House of the People passed by a majority of all the then members of the house.
Disqualification provisions of MPs are still valid on Speaker /Deputy Speaker except one exception.
- Para-5 of the tenth Schedule says that a person who has been elected speaker/deputy speaker shall not be disqualified if she, by reason of his election to that office, voluntarily gives up the membership of the political party to which he belonged immediately before such election – and doesn’t, so long as she continues to hold office thereafter, rejoin that political party or become a member of another political party.
- Note: This exception is also applicable to Vice chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Speaker/Deputy Speakers of Legislative assembly and Chairman/Deputy chairman of Legislative Council.
Functions of Deputy Speaker
- Deputy Speaker is a Presiding Officer.
- Article 95(1) of the Constitution says that when the office of speaker is vacant, the duties of the office shall be performed by the Deputy Speaker.
- He is also ex-officio chairman of some committees by virtue of his position.
- In case of joint sitting of the two houses and absence of speaker, Deputy Speaker presides over the joint sitting of the two houses.
Powers of Deputy Speaker
- In general, the deputy speaker has the same powers as the speaker when presiding over a sitting of the house. All references to the speaker in the rules are deemed to be references to the Deputy Speaker when he presides.
- Further, no appeal lies to the Speaker against a ruling given by Deputy Speaker or any person presiding over a sitting of the House in the absence of Speaker.
Note: Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to Speaker. When he presides over a sitting, he has all the powers of a speaker.
Is it mandatory to elect a deputy speaker?
- Constitutional experts point out that both Article 93 and Article 178 use the words “shall” and “as soon as may be” – indicating that not only is the selection of Speaker and Deputy Speaker mandatory, it must be held at the earliest.
Is there a time frame?
Constitution provides for “as soon as possible”.
Conventions which are being followed:
- Generally, the practice in both Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies has been to elect speaker during the (mostly short) first session of the new House – usually on the third day after oath-taking and affirmation take place over the first two days.
- The election of deputy speaker generally takes place in the second session, even though there is no bar in having the elections in the first session of the new Lok Sabha/Assembly. But the election of deputy speaker is usually not delayed beyond the second session without genuine and unavoidable constraints.
- Since, the term of Morarji Desai government, the tradition of the post of the Deputy Speaker going to the Opposition party has been followed.
Why Deputy Speaker hasn’t been elected yet?
- The ruling party hasn’t been able to agree on a suitable opposition party member for the post. Opposition doesn’t have the required numbers to choose their own person.
- Speaker from the ruling party: Rule 8 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha provides that the election shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix”, and the Deputy Speaker is elected once a motion proposing his name is carried.
Can Courts intervene in situation of non-appointment of deputy speaker?
- No Precedent, nothing mentioned in the Constitution.
- Further, Article 122(1) says that validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.
- However, constitutional experts say that courts do have jurisdiction to at least enquire why there has been no election to the post of Deputy Speaker, since the constitution envisage an election “as soon as may be”.
Significance of Deputy Speaker
- Continuity of the Speakers Office by acting as the Speaker when the office becomes vacant due to illness, death, resignation, or any other reason.
- Unlike the panel of chairpersons, appointed by Speaker, which comprise of 9 MPs from various political parties, who preside over the house when the Speaker is not in the chair, they don’t enjoy the same constitutional or administrative power as the speaker.
Further, since the position of deputy speaker by convention is held by opposition party, it increases the accountability of majority party to legislative process to some extent.
- The post of the speaker and deputy speaker are both crucial for the smooth working of the Parliament and thus their appointments should be made as soon as possible right at the beginning of the new term of Lok Sabha.