SC remark brings in focus call for clarity on Speaker’s role on disqualification issue | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC remark brings in focus call for clarity on Speaker’s role on disqualification issue

Feb 19, 2023 01:28 AM IST

The Supreme Court had remarked that a Speaker of a legislative body, and not a court, should be the first forum for deciding disqualification issues

New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s remark that a Speaker of a legislative body, and not a court, should be the first forum for deciding disqualification issues brings back the focus on the ongoing negotiations among India’s legislative speakers over redefining their roles over the disqualification issue.

The remark of the Supreme Court will definitely have an impact on the ongoing talks, an official involved in the talks said. (ANI)
The remark of the Supreme Court will definitely have an impact on the ongoing talks, an official involved in the talks said. (ANI)

For the past three years, the All India Presiding Officer’s Conference, chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, is trying to review the Speaker’s role as envisaged in the 10th Schedule of the Constitution that deals with disqualification of MPs and MLAs.

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Hearing a case related to the Maharashtra crisis last year and whether a Speaker facing a notice for his removal can disqualify MLAs in his assembly, the apex court on February 15 maintained that Speakers should be the first authority to decide on disqualification.

In the discussions of the Presiding Officers’ Conference, the focus is how to secure the legislative speaker’s dignity in this matter. In three conferences over the past three years, many presiding officers have expressed views that their role vis-à-vis the 10th schedule should be limited and other mechanisms must evolve to decide cases of defection.

Paragraph six of the 10th schedule says that questions relating to disqualification of members of a House shall be referred to the Speaker, whose decision will be final. “Provided that where the question which has arisen is as to whether the Chairman or the Speaker of a House has become subject to such disqualification, the question shall be referred for the decision of such member of the House as the House may elect in this behalf and his decision shall be final,” it says.

One of the proposal that is being discussed by legislative presiding officers is to leave the issue of disqualification to the respective political parties as they give tickets to the MLAs. Another section of the state speakers has argued against any such change.

“The remark of the Supreme Court will definitely have an impact on the ongoing talks,” an official involved in the negotiations said on condition of anonymity. “Let’s see how the issue plays out in the next meeting of the presiding officers.”

During a Speaker’s Conference in Dehradun in 2021, several participants voiced their concerns and pointed out loopholes that often cast a shadow on the speaker’s role.

“The way people are losing faith in democratic institutions and the way fingers are pointed at presiding officers of legislative bodies, it is a matter of concern,” Birla had said. “There is a need to amend the law to uphold the prestige of the institution of speaker.”

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