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PoliticsIndiaExplainer: Rules under which 19 RS, 4 LS MPs were suspended

Explainer: Rules under which 19 RS, 4 LS MPs were suspended

While Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had suspended four MPs for trying to disrupt the house yesterday, today 19 MPs of opposition parties Trinamool Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Communist Party of India, CPI(Marxist) and DMK were suspended for the week.

The suspended are Trinamool Congress members Dola Sen, Sushmita Dev, Nadimul Haque, Mausam Noor, Santunu Sen, Shanta Chhetri and Abir Ranjan Biswas; DMK's MH Abdulla, R Girirajan, NR Elango, S Kalyanasundaram, M Shanmugam and Kanimozhi NVN Somu; TRS MPs Damodar Rao Divakonda, BL Yadav and Ravihandra Vaddiraju, CPI(M)'s V Sivadasan and AA Rahim and
CPI's P Sandosh Kumar.

What did they do to merit suspension?

witnessed several adjournments as opposition MPs demanded an urgent discussion under Rule 267 on price rise and GST hike refused to leave the house and continued to chant slogans. When the house reassembled at 2 PM, several opposition members stormed the well, reiterating their demand.

Rule 267 deals with the procedure and conduct of business in the Rajya Sabha. Under this rule, the chairperson or deputy chairperson suspends the listed business of the day to accept the issue raised.

What is the rule under which 19 MPs were suspended?

When Deputy Chairperson Harivansh's repeated appeal not to use placards and to get back to their seats went unheeded, a motion for suspension of members was proposed after the chair named the protesting members under Rule 256. The Rule states: “The chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the council by persistently and willfully obstructing the business thereof”.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Murleedharan moved the motion against 19 members and they were suspended for the remaining days of the week.

According to Rule 255, only the chairperson can take the decision to ask an MP to leave the house. It is a lesser punishment than what applies under Rule 256, which provides for suspension of the member.

Under Rule 256, the chairperson may, "if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the council by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof".

What was the Lok Sabha procedure employed yesterday?

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla issued a warning to Congress MPs Manickam Tagore, TN Prathapan, Jothimani and Ramya Haridas.

Parliamentary Affair Minister Pralhad Joshi later moved a resolution to suspend the four for the rest of the session.

The house then passed the resolution by a voice vote and Rajendra Agarwal who was chairing the proceedings announced their suspension.

What are the Lok Sabha rules and what do they say?

In the Lok Sabha, the decision rests with the Speaker under Rule 375 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha in case of a grave disorder arising in the House.

Rule 374A states that in case a member comes into the well of the House or refuses to adhere to the rules and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such a member will be named by the Speaker and "will stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the Session, whichever is less".

Is the rationale for suspension of MPs the same in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha?

The general principle is that it is the role and duty of the presiding officer — speaker of the Lok Sabha and chairperson of the Rajya Sabha — to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly. But there is one difference.

Like the speaker in Lok Sabha, the chairperson of the is empowered under Rule Number 255 of its manual to "direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately" from the house.

Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha chairperson does not have the power to suspend a Member. The house may, by another motion, terminate the suspension.

The chairperson 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.

So, is the suspension of 19 Rajya Sabha MPs today invalid?

No, Deputy Chairperson Harivansh did not suspend them right away. He moved a motion for suspension of members after naming the protesting members under Rule 256. As the rule described above states, he is entitled to take the said action. It was the house that suspended them and the suspension would not hold for the entire monsoon session of the but only for a week.

Are there severer punishments if some MPs still do not relent?

To deal with more recalcitrant Members, the speaker may take recourse to Rules 374 and 374A.

Rule 374 says:

“(1) 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.

“(2) 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.

“(3) A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.”

Rule 374A was incorporated into the rulebook on 5 December 2001. The intention was to skirt around the necessity of moving and adopting a motion for suspension.

According to Rule 374A: “(1) 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.

“(2) On the Speaker announcing the suspension under this rule, the Member shall forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House.”

Is suspending an MP an uncommon practice in the Indian parliament?

Not quite. On 5 March 2020, seven MPs — Gaurav Gogoi (Kaliabor), T N Prathapan (Thrissur), Dean Kuriakose (Idukki), Rajmohan Unnithan (Kasaragod), Manickam Tagore (Virudhunagar), Benny Behanan (Chalakudy) and Gurjeet Singh Aujla (Amritsar) — were suspended from the Lok Sabha during the budget session.

In November 2019, Speaker Om Birla suspended two MPs.

In January 2019, Birla’s predecessor in the speaker’s chair, Sumitra Mahajan, suspended a total 45 Members belonging to the TDP and AIADMK after they continuously disrupted proceedings for days.

On 13 February 2014, then Speaker Meira Kumar suspended 18 MPs from (undivided) Andhra Pradesh following pandemonium in the house. The suspended MPs were either supporting or opposing the creation of the separate state of Telangana.

Even before, on 2 September 2014, nine MPs were suspended for five days.

On 23 August 2013, 12 MPs were suspended for five days.

On 24 April 2012, eight MPs were suspended for four days.

On 15 March 1989, when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister, as many as 63 members were suspended from Lok Sabha for three days.

On 23 September 2020, eight Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended on 21 September for unruly behaviour in the house on 20 September that year. The motion was passed by a voice vote.

Is suspending an MP a common practice in the Indian parliament?

Not quite. On 5 March 2020, seven MPs — Gaurav Gogoi (Kaliabor), T N Prathapan (Thrissur), Dean Kuriakose (Idukki), Rajmohan Unnithan (Kasaragod), Manickam Tagore (Virudhunagar), Benny Behanan (Chalakudy) and Gurjeet Singh Aujla (Amritsar) — were suspended from the Lok Sabha during the budget session.

In November 2019, Speaker Om Birla suspended two MPs.

In January 2019, Birla’s predecessor in the speaker’s chair, Sumitra Mahajan, suspended a total 45 Members belonging to the TDP and AIADMK after they continuously disrupted proceedings for days.

On 13 February 2014, then Speaker Meira Kumar suspended 18 MPs from (undivided) Andhra Pradesh following pandemonium in the house. The suspended MPs were either supporting or opposing the creation of the separate state of Telangana.

Even before, on 2 September 2014, nine MPs were suspended for five days.

On 23 August 2013, 12 MPs were suspended for five days.

On 24 April 2012, eight MPs were suspended for four days.

On 15 March 1989, when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister, as many as 63 members were suspended from Lok Sabha for three days.

On 23 September 2020, eight Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended on 21 September for unruly behaviour in the house on 20 September that year. The motion was passed by a voice vote.

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