The Federal Structure of Government in IndiaThe federal structure of the Indian system of governance is a three-tiered system, each tier having executive functions. According to the Constitution of India, the Union or the Central Government is the highest executive body of India. It delineates some of its powers to its constituent political units which are comprised of the State Governments in each state. This is the second tier in the structure. In other words, each state is vested with exclusive executive powers, managed by the ruling governments in each state. The third tier in the federal structure, is the local-level governance of the Panchayats and Municipalities.
Role of the SpeakerSince the Indian system of government follows the Westminster Model, the Parliamentary proceedings of the country are headed by a presiding officer who is called a Speaker. In other words, the Speaker of the two houses of the Parliament is responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of the House. The Lok Sabha or the Lower House of the People in India, which is the highest legislative body in the country, chooses its Speaker who presides over the day-to-day functioning of the House. In the Rajya Sabha, the role of the Speaker is carried out by the Vice President of the country. His role is similar to that of the Lok Sabha Speaker, although the nomenclature is varied. Thus, the Speaker plays the crucial role of ensuring that the Parliament carries forward its role of legislation peacefully, maintaining harmony in the Houses of Parliament and taking crucial procedural decisions of the House. The Speaker is thus, in every sense, considered the true guardian of the Indian Parliamentary democracy, holding the complete authority of the Lok Sabha.
Inside the pageRole of the Speaker Powers of the Speaker Salary of the Speaker Selection Process of the Speaker Duty Term of the Speaker Pension of the Speaker Residence of the Speaker List of Lok Sabha Speakers
Powers of the SpeakerAccording to the Constitution of India, a Speaker is vested with immense administrative and discretionary powers, some of which are enumerated below:
- The Speaker presides over the meetings in the House. In other words, the business in the House is conducted by the Speaker, ensuring discipline and decorum amongst its members. He/she guards the rights and privileges of the members of the two Houses, deciding who should speak at what time, the questions to be asked, the order of proceedings to be followed, among others.
- A Speaker uses his/her power to vote, in order to resolve a deadlock. That is, when the House initiates a voting procedure, he does not cast a vote in the first instance. However, when the two sides receive equal number of votes, the Speaker's vote is used to resolve the deadlock, making the his position as impartial as in the English system of democracy.
- In the absence of a quorum in the House, it is the duty of the Speaker to adjourn the House or to suspend any meeting, until the quorum is met. The Speaker decides the agenda that must be discussed in a meeting of the Members of the Parliament.
- The Speaker is invested with the immense powers of interpreting the Rules of Procedure. That is, since he/she is the member of the House as well as the Presiding Officer at the same time, he ensures the discipline of the House. The Speaker ensures that MPs are punished for unruly behaviour. A Speaker can also disqualify a Member of Parliament from the House on grounds of defection. It is in the power of a Speaker, to permit the various parliamentary procedures such as the motion of adjournment, the motion of no confidence, the motion of censure, among others.
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.
- Once a Money Bill is transmitted from the Lower House to the Upper House, the Speaker is solely responsible for endorsing his or her certificate on the Bill. In other words, he/she is given the pivotal power to decide whether any Bill is a Money Bill. This decision is considered final, and all procedures henceforth, must be carried along accordingly.
- The Speaker has under his or her jurisdiction, a number of Parliamentary Committees such as the Rules Committee, the Business Advisory Committee and the General Purposes Committee. The Speaker nominates the various Chairmen of these Committees, as well as looks into the procedural hindrances of the workings of these Committees, if any.
- Besides heading the Lok Sabha, the Speaker is also the 'ex-officio' President of the Indian Parliamentary Group. He/she also acts in the capacity of Chairman of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India.
- As part of the Speaker's administrative role, he or she is the head of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, maintaining absolute security surveillance in the Parliament.
Eligibility Criteria of a SpeakerSince the Speaker is a Member of the Parliament, the eligibility criteria for the position are same as that of the other members in the House. They are as follows:
- He or she must be a citizen of India.
- He or she must not be less than 25 years of age.
- He or she should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India, or the Government of any other state.
- He or she should not be of unsound mind.
Salary of the SpeakerSince, a Speaker is also a member of the Parliament, he or she comes under the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Parliament Act of 1954, which was amended in December 2010. According to this particular Act, the salary of the Speaker is Rs 50,000 per month, along with a Constituency allowance of Rs 40,000 per month. The Speaker is also entitled to a Daily Allowance of Rs 2,000 while he/she attends a parliamentary session or other committee meetings, for the whole of the term.
Facilities availed by a SpeakerBeing a member of the Parliament, the Speaker is entitled to many facilities which are given to other Members of the Parliament too. These are:
- The Speaker and his or her family is entitled to travelling allowances equal to that of the Cabinet of the House. Irrespective of whether the Speaker is travelling within the country or making foreign tours, the facilities accorded to the Speaker include free lodging, free transport and free boarding.
- The Speaker is also entitled to rent-free furnished residence provided by the Government of India, throughout the term of his or her tenure. This also includes provisions for free electricity, free phone calls upto a certain limit, free servants who work in the house, free staff and other buildings appurtenant.
- The Speaker and his or her family is entitled to free medical amenities as well as a repayable motor car advance not exceeding Rs one lakh.
Selection Process of the SpeakerThe Speaker is one of the members of the Lok Sabha. On the very first meeting of a newly-constituted Lok Sabha, the Speaker is elected from among the members. The process of election is a simple majority of the members present and voting. Usually the ruling party or the ruling alliance chooses one of its members to be elected as the Speaker, after consultations with other leaders of other political parties. The Prime Minister announces the name of the person to be elected. The political parties conduct a simple voting process. Once the Speaker-elect is chosen, he or she is felicitated by the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and other political leaders to the chair.
Duty Term of the SpeakerThe Speaker holds office during the life of the House, and once the House is dissolved, the Speaker's term of office ends. However, the Speaker can be re-elected to the post. The Speaker's office may however, terminate earlier than the expiry of the House due to the following reasons:
- When the Speaker ceases to be a Member of the House.
- When the Speaker resigns by writing to the Deputy Speaker.
- When the Speaker is removed from office by a resolution which is passed by a majority of all the members of the House. While such a process is underway, the Speaker cannot preside over the House, but can take part in the proceedings of the House.
Pension of the SpeakerAs the Speaker is a Member of the Parliament, he or she is paid a monthly pension of Rs 20,000 according to the Salaries, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament Bill of 2010. An extra allowance of Rs 1,500 is given in addition to the pension.
Residence of the SpeakerThe Speaker is entitled to a rent-free, well-furnished residence in Delhi, during the term of his or her office.
Interesting Facts about Speakers of India
- The first woman Speaker in the history of the Indian Parliament is Meira Kumar, who presided over the 15th Lok Sabha session beginning in 2009.
- The first Speaker in India was G V Mavlankar, who presided over the Lok Sabha from 1952 to 1956. He is known as the Father of Lok Sabha, for his immense contribution in redesigning the country's parliamentary proceedings with intricate impartiality.
- The only Speaker to have presided over the Parliament in two consecutive terms, for the full five-year periods was Balram Jakhar.
- Speaker Rabi Ray is popularly called the Son of Soil, due to his immense straightforwardness and eye for detail in the workings of the Parliament.
- One of the most eloquent Speakers in the history of the Indian Parliament to this day is, P A Sangma.
List of Lok Sabha Speakers
|Speakers||From year||To year|
|Smt. Sumitra Mahajan||06/06/2014||Incumbent|
|Smt. Meira Kumar||04/06/2009||04/06/2014|
|Shri Somnath Chatterjee||04/06/2004||31/05/2009|
|Sh. Manohar Joshi||10/05/2002||02/06/2004|
|Sh. G.M.C. Balyogi||24/03/1998||19/10/1999|
|Sh. P.A. Sangma||23/05/1996||23/03/1998|
|Sh. Shivraj V Patil||10/07/1991||22/05/1996|
|Sh. Rabi Ray||19/12/1989||09/07/1991|
|Sh. Bal Ram Jakhar||22/01/1980||15/01/1985|
|Sh. K.S. Hegde||21/07/1977||21/01/1980|
|Sh. Bali Ram Bhagat||15/01/1976||25/03/1977|
|Sh. G.S. Dhillon||08/08/1969||17/03/1971|
|Sh. N. Sanjiva Reddy||17/03/1967||19/07/1969|
|Sardar Hukam Singh||17/04/1962||16/03/1967|
|Sh. M. A. Ayyangar||08/03/1956||10/05/1957|
|Sh. G.V. Mavalankar||15/05/1952||27/02/1956|
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Last Updated on May 21, 2015