Q What is the context ?
A Twelve members of the Rajya Sabha were suspended for their alleged involvement in the grave disorder in the House on the last day of the previous session.
Q What do Rajya Sabha’s rules of procedure say about the suspension of a member?
- Rule 256 of Rajya Sabha’s rules of procedure provides for the suspension of a member who disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the council by persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the House.
- Persistent and willful obstruction of the business of the House is the crux of the offence.
Q What is the maximum period of suspension ?
- Suspension can be for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
- This would mean that if the member is suspended on the last day of the session, the period of suspension will be only a day.
- So, even if a government would like to suspend such a member for a longer period. it would not be possible under the present rule.
- Unless the House itself revokes the suspension nothing can be done about it.
- The decision of the House is final.
- Every legislature has the power to suspend its members if they cause disorder and obstruct the business of the House.
- But the rule of suspension is rarely invoked in parliaments in mature democracies.
Q Whether the existing rules permit such a course of action?
- Rule 256 says that the chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who either disregards the authority of the chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and willfully obstructing the business of the House.
- Sub Rule 2 of this rule is of very great importance in the context of the main question, namely, whether a member can be suspended in the next session for creating disorder in the previous session.
- No adjournment is allowed: It clearly says no adjournment is allowed, which means the matter of suspension cannot be adjourned to a later period.
- It needs to be decided then and there.
- A member who abuses the rules of the House by persistently and willfully obstructing its business needs to be punished swiftly.
- No adjournment is allowed at all.
Q What are the powers of the House to regulate its internal matters ?
- It can be said that the rule under which the members were suspended does not actually permit it.
- Absolute power to interpret rule: The House is supreme in these matters and the chair has absolute powers to interpret the rules.
- The judiciary has time and again clarified that the House has absolute powers to regulate its internal matters.
- Suspension of a member is such a matter.
- The judiciary will intervene only when a patently unconstitutional act is done by the House.
Q What can be way forward ?
A The solution to disruptions does not lie in suspension. That is the lesson we should learn from past experience.