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15-02-2023

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The missing Deputy Speaker: the post, and what the Constitution says

GS-2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to the Centre and five states, including Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand, for their failure to elect a Deputy Speaker. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed, arguing that not electing a Deputy Speaker to the 17thLok Sabha, which was formed on June 19, 2019, violates the Constitution. The post of Deputy Speaker has been vacant in these five state Assemblies as well, which were constituted between four years and almost one year ago, according to the plea. In the case of Shariq Ahmed v. Union of India And Ors, the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud has sought responses from the involved parties.



The Deputy Speaker

  • Art-93: The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of the People
  • 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.
  • Similarly, Article 178 contains the corresponding position for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.
  • The word "shall" used in Articles 93 and 178 to refer to the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, suggests that it is compulsory under the Constitution. Although the articles state "as soon as may be," they do not establish a specific timeframe.

 

Appointment of Deputy Speaker in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies

  • Typically, the Speaker is elected in the first session of Lok Sabha and state assemblies, which usually takes place within the first three days after the oath-taking and affirmations of the members. 
  • On the other hand, the Deputy Speaker is elected in the second session, subject to no genuine constraints or delay.
  • Rule 8 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha states that the Deputy Speaker's election date is fixed by the Speaker, and the Deputy Speaker is elected after a motion proposing their name is carried in the House. 
  • The Deputy Speaker usually serves for the entire duration of the House, and if they cease to be a member of the House or resign, they must vacate their office. 
  • They can also be removed from office by a resolution of the House passed by a majority of all the then members of the House, as per Article 94 (Article 179 for state legislatures).

 

Exploring the Origins of the Deputy Speaker Role in Indian Democracy

  • During a discussion in the Constituent Assembly on May 19, 1941, H V Kamath suggested that the Speaker should address their resignation to the President instead of the Deputy Speaker. 
  • However, Dr B R Ambedkar disagreed and pointed out that the resignation should be addressed to the House, which is the appointing authority.


In the event that the post of Deputy Speaker is not occupied, what occurs?

  • According to the Rules for Presiding Officers of Lok Sabha, if the post of Deputy Speaker is vacant, the Secretary-General, who receives the letter of resignation, will inform the House of the Speaker's resignation
  • The resignation will then be notified in the Gazette and the Bulletin.


Can the Deputy Speaker exercise the powers of the Speaker?

  • Article 95(1) stipulates that in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker shall perform the duties of the office. 
  • The Deputy Speaker is vested with similar powers as the Speaker while chairing a House session, and all mentions of the Speaker in the rules are deemed to include the Deputy Speaker when he is presiding. 
  • Furthermore, it has been established that rulings given by the Deputy Speaker or any other person presiding in the Speaker's absence are not subject to appeal by the Speaker.


Stance of the Union government on the current vacancy in the post of Deputy Speaker

  • The ruling party has stated that there is no immediate need for a Deputy Speaker since the House is functioning normally with the assistance of a panel of nine experienced members from different parties who can act as chairpersons.
  • This panel includes members from BJP, Congress, DMK, YSRCP, BJD, RSP, and TMC. 
  • In the past, the post of Deputy Speaker has been offered to the opposition party.

 

Can Courts intervene in delay of Deputy Speaker election?

  • petition was filed in September 2021 before the Delhi High Court arguing that the delay in electing the Deputy Speaker violated Article 93. 
  • However, there is no precedent of a court forcing the legislature to elect the Deputy Speaker. 
  • Courts usually don’t intervenient Parliament's procedural conduct as per Article 122(1).
  • 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.”
  • Nonetheless, experts say courts can inquire into the reason for delay since the Constitution mandates an election "as soon as may be".

 

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Fact File


Scientists discover new ‘quasicrystal’ in Nebraska, US: What are quasicrystals?


  • The study has found a new type of quasicrystal in the Sand Hills of north central Nebraska. Quasicrystals are crystal-like substances that have atoms arranged in a pattern that doesn’t repeat itself regularly.
  • The discovered quasicrystal has a 12-sided atomic structure, which is quite unusual as previously found quasicrystals have five-fold symmetric patterns. 
  • This is the first-time quasicrystals have been found in nature, other than in meteorites or the debris from nuclear blasts.
  • The formation of the new quasicrystal was believed to be a result of an accidental electrical discharge such as a lightning strike or a downed power line in a dune.
  • Quasicrystals have been created in labs and have been found to have novel electrical, photonic, and mechanical properties making them useful in various applications such as non-stick frying pans, acupuncture needles, dental instruments, and razor blades.


PM Modi mentions ‘BIMARU’ tag in UP, Rajasthan: What does this term mean?


  • BIMARU states is a term used to refer to four Indian states - Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh - which were known for their low levels of socio-economic development, high levels of poverty and illiteracy, and a highpopulation growth rate. 
  • These regions made up 41% of India's population in 2001 and are projected to make up 43.5% in 2026.
  • This has major political significance and indicates that the contribution of the BIMARU states to India's overall population growth from 2001 to 2026 will be 50.4%, while the contribution of southern states will only be 12.6%.


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