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Parliament Part 4- Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament

Presiding Officers Of Parliament | Parliament Part 4- Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament

  • Each House of Parliament has its own presiding officer.
  • There is a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker for the Lok Sabha and a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman for the Rajya Sabha.
  • A panel of chairpersons for the Lok Sabha and a panel of vice-chairpersons for the Rajya Sabha is also appointed.

Speaker of the Lok Sabha

  • The Lok Sabha, which is the highest legislative body in the country, chooses its Speaker who presides over the day to day functioning of the House.
  • Electing the Speaker of the House is one of the first acts of newly constituted House.
  • The office of the Speaker is a Constitutional Office. The Speaker is guided by the constitutional provisions and the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • The Speaker is placed very high in the Warrant of Precedence in the country i.e. at rank 6.
  • Adequate Powers are vested in the office of the Speaker to help her/him in the smooth conduct of parliamentary proceedings.
  • The constitution provides that the Speaker’s salary and allowances are not to be voted by the Parliament and are to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • In the Lok Sabha chamber, the Speaker’s chair is distinctively placed to enable a commanding view of the entire House.
  • The Speaker is assisted by the Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha and senior officers of the Secretariat on parliamentary activities, practice and procedure.
  • In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker discharges the functions. A member from the Panel of Chairmen presides over the House in the absence of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha | Parliament Part 4- Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament

  • Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker is also elected by the Lok Sabha itself from amongst its members. He is elected after the election of the Speaker has taken place. The date of election of the Deputy Speaker is fixed by the Speaker. Whenever the office of the Deputy Speaker falls vacant, the Lok Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.
  • Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker remains in office usually during the life of the Lok Sabha. However, he may vacate his office earlier in any of the following three cases:
    • if he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha;
    • if he resigns by writing to the Speaker; and
    • if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then members of the Lok Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
  • The Deputy Speaker performs the duties of the Speaker’s office when it is vacant. He also acts as the Speaker when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House. In both the cases, he assumes all the powers of the Speaker. He also presides over the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, in case the Speaker is absent from such a sitting. It should be noted here that the Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker. He is directly responsible to the house.

Speaker Pro Tem

  • After each general election the President nominates the senior most member elected as Speaker Pro Tem. He performs the duties of office of the Speaker till the house elects one. Usually the only duty performed by the Speaker Pro Tem is to administer oath to the newly elected members.

Chairman And Deputy Chairman Of Rajya Sabha

  • While presiding officers of the Lok Sabha are called the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, their opposite officers in the Rajya Sabha are called the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman respectively.
  • The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
  • As the presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha his functions and powers are the same as those of the Speaker. He is however not a member of the House.
  • In the absence of the Chairman, the Council is presided over by the Deputy Chairman. He is a member of the House and is elected by the members of the House. When he ceases to be a member of the Council, he automatically vacates the office of the Deputy Chairman. He can resign his office by writing to the chairman. He may be removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then member of the Council.
  • The Deputy Chairman is empowered to discharge all the functions and to perform all duties of the office of the ‘Chairman, whenever Chairman’s office is vacant or when the Vice-President is acting for the President. As a presiding officer of the Council he is also given a regular salary and other allowances such as Parliament by law has fixed.
  • Rajya Sabha also has a panel of member called Vice-Chairman nominated by the chairman for the purpose of presiding over the House in the absence of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman.
  • The Secretariat of the Rajya Sabha is headed by a Secretary who discharges the same functions as his counterpart in the Lok Sabha.

Secretariat of Parliament | Parliament Part 4- Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament

  • Each House of Parliament has separate secretarial staff of its own, though there can be some posts common to both the Houses. Their recruitment and service conditions are regulated by Parliament. The secretariat of each House is headed by a secretary-general. He is a permanent officer and is appointed by the presiding officer of the House.

Leaders In Parliament

Leader of the House

  • Under the Rules of Lok Sabha, the ‘Leader of the House’ means the prime minister, if he is a member of the Lok Sabha, or a minister who is a member of the Lok Sabha and is nominated by the prime minister to function as the Leader of the House.
  • There is also a ‘Leader of the House’ in the Rajya Sabha. He is a minister and a member of the Rajya Sabha and is nominated by the prime minister to function as such.
  • The leader of the house in either House is an important functionary and exercises direct influence on the conduct of business. He can also nominate a deputy leader of the House.
  • The same functionary in USA is known as the ‘majority leader’.

 

Leader of Opposition

  • The LOP is leader of the largest party that has not less than one-tenth of the total strength of the house.
  • It is a statutory post defined in the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.
  • The Act says that LoP is the Leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman/Speaker of the House.
  • In Lok Sabha, total strength is 545 members so any party that has 55 members can get the post as recognised as such by the speaker/chairman.

Whip

  • Though the offices of the leader of the House and the leader of the Opposition are not mentioned in the Constitution of India, they are mentioned in the Rules of the House and Parliamentary Statute respectively. The office of ‘whip’, on the other hand, is mentioned neither in the Constitution of India nor in the Rules of the House nor in a Parliamentary Statute. It is based on the conventions of the parliamentary government. Every political party, whether ruling or Opposition has its own whip in the Parliament. He is appointed by the political party to serve as an assistant floor leader. He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue. He regulates and monitors their behaviour in the Parliament. The members are supposed to follow the directives given by the whip. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken.

 

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