Since few days Parliament monsoon session and farm bills have been a talk of the town. Between these two the opposition MPs suspension has been termed ‘Death of Democracy’. Eight opposition MPs of Rajya Sabha were suspended on 21 September, but this is not something which can be called unprecedented. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have a history of suspensions which aimed to retain discipline in the House and control the chaos.
Rajya Sabha comprises of 245 seats out of which 86 belongs to Bharatiya Janata Party, 2 to a clutch of Independents and rest include NDA (National Democratic Alliance – BJP + NDA = 113) & opposition while 2 of them are vacant. Each member has a right to voice their opinion, express disapproval and vote. To manage 245 diverse views & thoughts is not an easy task because a volcano can erupt anytime.
To do so the Presiding Officer Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha have certain powers, debarring a member if any nuisance is caused in the House.
Under Rule 373, 374 & 374A – Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business and Rule 255 & 256 of the – Provisions for Rajya Sabha, an MP can be suspended.
Why is an MP suspended?
Presiding Officer Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha have to make sure that the order & discipline in the House is maintained so that it can function smoothly.
Rule 255 (‘Withdrawal of member’) of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha, “The Chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the Council and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting.”
Rule 256 (‘Suspension of member’)
(1) 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.
(2) If a member is so named by the Chairman he shall forthwith put the question on a motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, that the member (naming him) be suspended from the service of the council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session:
Provided that the Council may, at any time, on. a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
(3) A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith quit the precincts of the Council.
On September 21, the Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu suspended Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien and Dola Sen, Congress’ Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora and Nazeer Hussain, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, CPI (M)’s Elamaram Kareem and K.K. Ragesh by Rajya Sabha. The suspension came after a day of ruckus in the parliament, over their ‘unruly behaviour.’ They wanted a right to vote over the farm bills and when their demands were not heard; they attempted to tear the Rule Book, climbed on the tables, shouted slogans and allegedly then threw the rule book at Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh. The suspended members initially refused to leave, and then sat on a dharna outside Parliament. The opposition sharply criticised the suspension of the MPs.
Rules 373, 374 and 374A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business are used by the Lok Sabha
Speaker to deal with ‘disorderly conduct of MPs.’
Rule 373 gives the Speaker the power to order the MP to withdraw from the House for the day, rule 374 is used for more unruly members and leads to suspension and rule 374A is to skirt the need for moving and adopting a motion for suspension.
In 2015, Sumitra Mahajan, then Lok Sabha speaker, drew upon these powers and suspended 25 Congress members for five days.
In 2010, seven Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended over aggressively disrupting the proceeding of Women’s Reservation Bill.
In 2013, nine MPs were suspended over the Telangana issue by the Speaker of Lok Sabha and in 2014, over the same issue 18 Andhra Pradesh MPs were suspended.
The very first case happened in 1962, a decade after India’s first Lok Sabha polls. Godey Murahari, a Congress lawmaker was suspended for the remainder of the session.
Raj Narain who defeated late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1977 elections was twice suspended.
When Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, 63 members were suspended from Lok Sabha for three days.
Invoking suspension is the last resort for any House. Suspension orders can be undone if MPs express regret for their conduct.