The office of the Speaker in India has been borrowed from the British Parliamentary practice. Article 93 of the Constitution of India stipulates that the House of People, after every general election shall elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members for the entire term of the Lok Sabha. But the office of Speaker may fall vacant within the 5 year term (a) if the Speaker resigns, (b) if he ceases to be a member of the House (c) if he is impeached in terms of Art 94, and (d) if he dies or is incapacitated.
The Speaker may be removed from office by a resolution of the House supported by the majority of members present and voting. Fourteen clear days notice must be given. During debate on a motion for the removal of the Speaker, he does not preside over the session of the House. But he may take part in its proceedings. However since the Speaker in India is a nominee of the ruling party, he is never likely to be removed unless he proves himself to be positively inconvenient to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. No Speaker in India has ever been removed till now.
Functions Of Loksabha Speaker
The Indian constitution specifies certain definite functions of the Loksabha Speaker.
- Firstly, the Speaker presides over the sessions of the House. He does not take part in the debates nor does he vote except to break a tie. He remains neutral between the government and the opposition.
- Secondly, he maintains order in the House, interprets its rules of procedure and gives his rulings in disputed cases. The Speaker’s rulings are final. Neither the Speaker’s rulings nor his conduct in maintaining order in the House can be disputed in a Court of Law. On Parliamentary procedure in the House, the Speaker has the final say.
- Thirdly, the Speaker presides over the joint sessions of the Parliament whenever the President convenes such sessions to resolve deadlock between the two Houses. He certifies money bills. Whenever he certifies that a bill is a money bill, nobody can question it. It should also be noted that the Speaker does not vacate his office whenever the Lok Sabha is dissolved. He continues in office till the next incumbent is sworn in.
Outwardly the functions of the Lok Sabha Speaker are not many. In reality the Loksabha speaker occupies a very sensitive and crucial office. Presiding over the House may appear innocent. But the Loksabha Speaker has to see that order is maintained in the House. The Lok Sabha Speaker has to put down disorderly behavior by the members to maintain the dignity to the House. Lok Sabha Speaker has to enforce strict rules of procedure. He is the guardian of the rights and privileges of every member of the Houses. He has a special moral duty towards the opposition. He sees that the opposition is given enough opportunity to criticize the government. He also sees that the ministers do not hide facts from the House. He has to maintain strict neutrality between parties and must not be accused of partisan attitude.
Unlike the British Speaker, the Indian Lok Sabha Speaker does not sever all connections with the party but like the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives he does not maintain close links with the party. Since the Speaker in India does not sever links with the party, the British convention that the Speaker is not opposed in an election, is not followed in India.
The position of the Indian Lok Sabha Speaker is similar neither to that of the British Speaker who abjures politics altogether, nor to that of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who remains an active party man. In India, the Speaker invariably comes from the ruling party. After elevation to the office of the Speaker, he does not break away from the party but ceases to take an active part in party politics. Shri Purusottam Das Tandon, once a Speaker of the U.P. Assembly, felt that the Speaker in India need not walk on the foot prints of the British Speaker. G.V. Mavalankar, free India’s first Speaker maintained that “The Speaker in India is not to stay absolutely out of political arena as is the Speaker of the British House of Commons for the present; the Speaker must continue to be a politician though with very extensive limitations on his activities.”
The Speaker, as Nehru felt occupies an honored position. He stands for the dignity of the House. Hence it is debatable whether the Speaker should maintain his links with the party. It is possible that a power loving politician, if elevated to the dignified position of the Speaker, may fish for Prime Minister’s favor in expectation of political reward.