Vacant post of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker: Congress said, government is again destroying all established practices

New Delhi: On a PIL filed by the Supreme Court on the non-election of deputy speakers in the Lok Sabha as well as in several state assemblies, the Congress said it was yet another example of “destroying all established practices and traditions by the government”.

The post of deputy speaker, usually held by the main opposition party, has been vacant in the Lok Sabha since June 23, 2019.

Terming the issue as “very important”, a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Monday sought the assistance of Attorney General R Venkataramani in dealing with a PIL which, apart from the Lok Sabha, has been filed in the Assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand. refers to. , Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, where there is no Deputy Speaker.

The Secretary General of the Lok Sabha and the Principal Secretaries or Secretaries of the Legislative Assemblies have been made parties in the case.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said: “This government is destroying all established practices and traditions of the Lok Sabha… It is the right of the opposition. Traditionally, the post of deputy speaker has always been held by opposition parties. The government may give it to any party, but the tradition should not be broken.

Chowdhary said that he had written several letters to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to choose him as the deputy speaker. He said that he told Birla that “as per the constitutional mandate, the seat of the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha should be filled either by election or by consensus, as soon as possible after the constitution of a new Lok Sabha”.

Birla had earlier said: “It (Vice President’s selection) is a process, and when the time comes, it will be done.” However, sources close to the Speaker said the issue is the “prerogative of the government” and “a decision has to be taken by the government”.

Congress sources said the post of deputy speaker has never remained vacant for such a long time. During the two terms of the UPA and the first term of the Narendra Modi government, the deputy speaker was elected within three months of the formation of the Lok Sabha, he says.

Calling it “nothing but a travesty of democracy”, Chowdhary said it shows that “the government does not want to run the country on a democratic path”. “Hence every democratic institution is destroyed and trampled upon.”

Treasury Bench says there is no “urgent need” for a deputy speaker as “bills are being passed and discussions are on”. BJP sources also said that there had been some discussion in the past about choosing members from friendly parties like the BJD or the YSR Congress Party for the post.

With regard to the notice sent by the Supreme Court, sources in the government said it is still preparing its response.

A minister said there is a “panel of nine members” to act as the Speaker to assist the Speaker in running the House. “These members are senior, experienced and elected from different parties. So one cannot say that it is one-sided.

The nine members are Rama Devi (BJP), Kirit P Solanki (BJP), Rajendra Agarwal (BJP), Kodikkunnil Suresh (Congress), A Raja (DMK), PV Midhun Reddy (YSRCP), Bhartruhari Mehtab (BJD), NK Premachandran. Are included. (RSP) and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (TMC).

From 2014-19, during Modi’s first term, M Thambidurai of the AIADMK was the deputy speaker. The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had given the position to Charanjit Singh Atwal of the Akali Dal in its first term (2004–09), and Kariya Munda of the BJP in its second (2009–14) term. Under the BJP-led NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the post was left to the Congress, which nominated P M Sayeed.

Article 93 of the Constitution, which deals with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, reads: “The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively and, as often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member as Speaker or Deputy Speaker, as the case may be.

According to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha, “The Deputy Speaker or any other member competent under the Constitution or these rules to preside over a sitting of the House shall, while so presiding, have the same powers as the Speaker when so presiding.” and all references in these rules to the Chairperson shall in these circumstances be construed as references to any such person.”

The Deputy Speaker is also a member of the General Purposes Committee, whose function is to “consider and advise on such matters relating to the affairs of the House as may be referred from time to time by the Speaker”.