In our Parliamentary democracy, the Speaker’s office plays a critical role. The Speaker is the guardian of Parliamentary democracy’s traditions. Within the House, she is the final interpreter of the Constitution. In the Warrant of Precedence, she stands next only to the President, the Vice-President, and the Prime Minister. The office’s expenses are charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.
The Constitution, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, as well as practices and conventions, vest enough powers in the speaker and safeguard the office’s independence and impartiality.
Comparison of Indian Speakers with Speakers in Britain
- Speaker in Britain is politically impartial. On election, the new Speaker resigns from the political party and remains separate from political issues even in retirement. In contrast, the Speaker in India belongs to the majority party.
- In Britain, the principle of “Once a Speaker always a Speaker” is followed. Once a member of the House of Commons is elected as Speaker, he is virtually allowed to continue in office by repeatedly electing him as the speaker so long as he wishes to continue in the office.
- Thus, in a general election, Speakers do not campaign on any political issues but simply stand as the Speaker seeking re-election and is elected unopposed from that the parliamentary constituency.
- Conventionally speakers in the UK are unanimously elected in the house (only one candidate contest). The ruling party nominates a candidate after consulting opposition parties. This is to show that; the speaker is a “Man of the House” and not representative of any political party.
- Speakers in India have only a “casting vote.” In the UK he can vote in the first instance. But to show neutrality he neither participates in discussions nor votes in the first instance. Thus, practically only casting vote enjoyed.
- Speaker in the UK is the most powerful presiding officer of the lower houses in the world. His powers are immense in comparison to Lok Sabha Speaker. To maintain decorum and check unparliamentary behavior, speakers in the UK can name any member of the house, which means a member shall vacate the house. He also has power to suspend the members.
Thus, in order to restore neutrality and prevent the deterioration of the Indian parliament, the role of Lok Sabha Speaker, as well as speaker of legislative assemblies in states, can be modeled after the office of Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.