Speaker possesses a vital position in the conduct of procedure of the House. In
spite of the fact that Presiding Officer of any legislative body holds important
position but the component part of the sovereign organization on account of power
and position of the House over which the Speaker presides, his office derives
role of Speaker is significant in the Indian Parliamentary democracy, as he
being the directing officer in charge of undertakings in the House.1 It
is the Lower House where government has to prove its majority and where
no-confidence motions are fought, and, most often, where Prime Minister sits.
Speaker represents the collective voice of the House and is the sole
representative of the House.
position that the Speaker holds today is consequence of battle for a long time.
During the British rule the Speaker was just a candidate of the sovereign.2 It
was in 1921 when the Central Legislative Assembly was for the first time constituted
under the Montague-Chelmsford Rolono. Beforehand it was Governor General of
India who used to direct the sitting of the Legislative Counci.3
Sir Fredrick White was selected as first Speaker of the Central Legislative
Assembly for the tenure of four years by the Governor General.4 At
that time Speaker was known as President of Legislative Assembly.5 When
the Constitution of India was passed by the Constituent Assembly, Mr.G.V.
Mavalankar was picked as the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha constituted after
the first general election of post independence.6 In
the early days when the House of Common was a petitioning instead of a law
making body, the Speaker’s main function was to sum up the case of the both sides
at the end of the date and to present the views of the House of Crown.7
The position of Speaker now has evolved
a lot independence and impartiality as the two important characteristics of the
office of Speaker. The Speaker’s powers and functions can be secured into three
broad classes. To begin with, the Speaker facilitates the business of the
House. The Speaker must be apolitical and can’t partake in the discussion in
the House. He does not vote in the House except when there is an equality in votes.
He disassociate himself from the exercises of his party. While he may keep on
belonging to a party, he avoids being included in any party politics. However, when he presides over the
different sessions of the business of the House, he is effectively engaged with
them. While the members, through the Business Advisory Committee, decide the business
of the House, the Speaker decides the admissibility of different motions such an
adjournment motion and motion for short duration discussion.8 He
helps the members in considering the executive responsible by choosing members who
may pose supplementary questions9 and
compelling ministers to make statements before the House.10
Along these lines through his decision, the Speaker encourages the
Parliamentary function of representing the electorate and considering the government
so as to keep up decorum in the House, the Speaker takes on the role of disciplinarian.
If there arises an occurrence of disorder, he is authorised to suspend the members,11
or request them to pull back from the House. If there is an occurrence of grace
disorder he can adjourn the House.12
Speaker additionally plays out a quasi-judicial authority in issues relating to
defection, the Speaker decides on the petition alleging defection.13
HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF THE OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER
The Office of the Speaker in India
was established for the first time in 1921 under the Government of India Act,
but its roots can be traced back to 1833, when a beginning was made for the making
of a separate national legislature for the country. The appraisal of the office
of the Speaker, the growth of the Parliamentary procedure and the evolution of
the legislature have, thus marched hand in hand with every Constitutional
reform that was established by the British Government in our country from time
to time. The transformation of the role and the status of the Speaker has taken
place alongwith India’s struggle for independence and the speakership has
passed through from different stages.
the first phase, 1833 to 1919 the office remained with Governor General who
played the compound role of both as presiding officer and as the head of the
British Government in India. During this stage there was no difference between
the executive and legislature.15
The year 1853 was landmark in the Constitutional history of India to be established,
first time not only Legislative Council but also laid the foundation of the
office of Speaker. Lord Dalhousie, was the first President of the Legislative
Council to function independently of the executive control.16
Then the Legislative Council was not like a modern Parliament it was small body
of 12 members. It was not responsible to the people because they were not
elected by them. Act of 1892 increased the number of members of Legislative
Council from 12 to 16.17
The Indian Council Act of 1909 constituted yet another important milestone in
the history, by this Act a separate National Legislature for the country came
to be called the Empirical Legislature Council. The office of Vice President of
which was eradicate in 1861, was reconsidered under present Act. The powers and
the functions of the President during the initial Period (1833 to 1918)
multiplied and come to acquire the status somewhat akin to the modern Speaker.
Act of 1919 set up a bi-cameral legislature which consisted of Governor
General, Council of States18
and the Legislative Assembly.19
second phase, 1921-1925, the Speaker functioned as a nominee of the Governor
General. Mr. Fredrick Whyte assumed office as President of the Indian
Legislative Assembly on February 3, 192120 and
Dr. Sachidananda Sindia as Deputy President on February 5, 1921.21
Mr. Fredrick Whyte continued to function as its Presiding Officer till August
was during the third phase, 1925 to 1947 that the deliberations of the Assembly
came to be presided over by the elected Presidents who made their contribution
in the evolution of this August office. The election of Mr. V.J. Patel was approved
by the Governor General on August, 24, 1925 and he assumed office on that day
and Mr. Diwan Radour T. Ramgacheriar was elected as Deputy President.22
Mr. Patel worked hard and established his reputation as one of the most outstanding
and popular Indian Speakers.23
After Mr. Patel’s tenure of office of President, elections have been held from time
to time and following presidents were: Sir Moulvi Mohammad Yakub Khan (9.7.1930
to 31.7.1930), Sir Ibrahim (17.1.1931 to 7.3.1933), Mr. R.K. Shanmukham Chetty
(14.3.1933 to 31.12.1934), Sir Abdur Rahim (24.1.1935 to 1.10.1945).
Government of India Act, 1935, envisaged the setting up a Federal type of
Government in India as sought to change the nomenclature of the Presiding
officer of the Federal Legislature Assembly (also to provincial legislating assemblies)
from President to Speaker,24
but it was not implemented, this nomination was ultimately changed after independence
of India in August, 1947.
final phase, August 15, 1947 to January, 25, 1950 concur with the cockcrow of independence
and it brought corresponding coinage in the office and the Speaker came to
acquire the status of a presiding officer of a sovereign legislature. In
pursuance of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 India became an independent
State, with dominion status on August 15, 1947.25 The Constituent Assembly continued to work on
the framing a new Constitution for the country. Shri G.V. Mavalankar was
elected as Speaker on November 17, 1947 of the Constituent Assembly
(Legislature) when it met the dominion Legislature of the country Shri M.A.
Ayyanger was elected as Deputy Speaker on September 2, 1948.
1 Subhash C. Kashyap, Office of the Speaker and the Speaker of Lok Sabha 71 (Shipra
Publications, Delhi, 1991).
2 Keir, The
Constitutional History of Modern Britain 143 (English Language Book
Society, London, 9th Edn., 1969).
3 The Indian Council Act, 1861, authorized
the over or general in the case of his anticipated absence from headquarters,
to appoint someone as Presiding Officer of the Council – 24 and 25 Vict. C67 S.
4 He took oath of his Office on 3 Feb. 1921
and his tenure lasted till 1925.
5 Under the Act of 1919, he was called the
President and this Nomenclature continued to be used for the presiding officer
till India achieved independence. Government of India Act, 1919, Section 63(c).
6 Subhash C. Kashyap, Parliamentary Procedure: The Law, Privileges, Practice and Precedents
70 (New Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, 2nd Edn.,
8 Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business
in the Lok Sabha, Rule 56 and 193.
Rule 56, 193, and 194.
10 As per the Rule 197, Rules and Procedure of
the Lok Sabha, The Speaker can require Ministers to make statements in response
so urgent makers of public importance that are raised in the House on the basic
of motion’s moved on the same day. Apart from this, Ministers can even be
compelled to make a statement in case of grave circumstances have arisen and
issue of prior was not possible in the matter. Lok Sabha, Debate, March 17, 1978.
11 Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business
in the Lok Sabha, Rule 374 and 374A.
12 Id., Rule
13 The Constitution of India, 1950, Tenth
Schedule, Para 6, added by 52 (Amendment) Act, 1985.
15 C.D. Dharker, Macaulay’s: Legislative Minutes
3-8 (Oxford University Press, 1946).
16 Lord Dalhousie in his Letter dated
18.9.1854 to Charles Wood. wrote “You have instituted by Law on independent body
of 10 to 12 English gentlemen and it is right you should know early that you
will find them asserting their legislative independence. Quoted in A.C.
Banerjee, Indian Constitutional Document,
324 (Mukherjee, Calcutta, 3rd Ed. Vol. I., 1961).
17 The Indian Council Act, 1892, Section 1(1),
18 The Government of India Act, 1919. Section.
20 The Governor General appointed the
President for First one years as required by … Government of India Act, 1914, Section
21 Legislative Assembly Debate, 11 (Vol.I,
22 Id., at
22-23 (Vol.VI, Part I, 1925).
23 Id., at
650-656 (Vol. VIII, 1926); Id., 1942-1943
(Vol. VIII, 1933).
24 The Government of India Act, 1935, Section 22
25 The Indian Independence Act, 1947, Section 1.