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Expunction powers in Parliament UPSC NOTE

 

  • Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar removed portions of Mallikarjun Kharge’s speech, which was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the RSS. 

  • Meanwhile, in the Lower House, parts of Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on the PM and the BJP were expunged from the records on the orders of Speaker Om Birla

When are remarks expunged?

  • Parliament maintains a verbatim record of everything that is spoken and takes place during proceedings. 

  • While Article 105 of the Constitution confers certain privileges and freedom of speech in Parliament on MPs, it is subject to other provisions of the Constitution and the rules of the House. 

  • On the orders of the presiding officer, that is, the Chairman in the Upper House and the Speaker in the Lower House, words, phrases and expressions which are deemed “defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary or undignified” are deleted or expunged from records

  • For this purpose, the Lok Sabha Secretariat maintains a comprehensive list of ‘unparliamentary’ words and expressions

  • The rules of parliamentary etiquette, which are laid out to ensure discipline and decorum in the Rajya Sabha

  • When the Chair holds that a particular word or expression is unparliamentary, it should be immediately withdrawn without any attempt to raise any debate over it. 

  • Words or expressions held to be unparliamentary and ordered to be expunged by the Chair are omitted from the printed debates

  • There have been recorded instances where the scope of expunction has been broadened. 

  • Members must withdraw objectionable remarks deemed irrelevant to the debate upon the Chair’s request and failure to comply may lead to expunction. 

  • Similarly, quoting from an unreferenced document or speaking after being asked to desist can result in an expunction.


What about remarks against an MP?

  • If an MP makes an allegation against their colleague or an outsider, Rule 353 of the Lok Sabha outlines the procedural framework to be followed. 

  • The Rule does not prohibit the making of any allegation. 

  • The only requirement is advance notice, on receipt of which the Minister concerned will conduct an inquiry into the allegation and come up with the facts when the MP makes the allegation in the House

  • If the allegation is neither defamatory nor incriminatory, the above rule would not apply

  • The rule does not apply to an allegation against a Minister in the government

  • Since the Council of Ministers is accountable to Parliament, the Members of the House have the right to question Ministers and make imputations against their conduct as Ministers

How do officers expunge remarks?

  • The Chairman and Speaker are vested with the power to order the expunction of remarks under Rule 261, and Rule 380 and 381 of the Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, respectively.

  • The expunged portions are marked by asterisks with an explanatory footnote stating ‘expunged as ordered by the Chair.’ 

  • If the Chair directs that nothing will go on record during a member’s speech or interruption, footnote ‘not recorded’ is inserted. 

  • A comprehensive list of words and phrases is circulated to media outlets at the end of the day’s proceedings. 

  • Once expunged, these words or phrases cease to exist on the official record. 

  • However, the relevance of the practice of expunging remarks has lately come into question, in a digital age where expunged content remains accessible due to the live telecast of proceedings and wider circulation of screenshots and videos on social media.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Expunction powers in Parliament UPSC NOTE
Expunction powers in Parliament UPSC NOTE
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