The Missing Deputy Speaker

The Missing Deputy Speaker

News: The Supreme Court has issued notices on a petition highlighting the vacant posts of Deputy Speakers in Lok Sabha and five state assemblies for years.

Background:
 A Bench sought responses on a PIL that contends that not electing a Deputy Speaker to the 17th (present) Lok Sabha, is “against the letter and spirit of the Constitution”.

What are Constitutional provisions regarding Deputy Speaker?
 Article 93 of the Constitution of India establishes the post of the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and Articles 94-96 detail their appointment, removal, and powers.
 In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker serves as the Speaker and wields the full powers of the Speaker. Deputy Speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker and is directly responsible to the House.
 Article 178 of the Constitution establishes the post of Deputy Speaker of assemblies and Articles 179-181 deal with their powers and appointment or resignation.

What are different viewpoints pertaining to the matter?
 Experts point out that both Articles 93 and 178 use the word “shall”, indicating that the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker is mandatory under the Constitution.
 Government argues that there is no “immediate requirement” for a Deputy Speaker as “bills are being passed and discussions are being held” as normal in the House. Further, there is a panel of nine members selected from different parties who can act as chairpersons to assist the Speaker to run the House.

Can the courts intervene in cases of delay in electing the Deputy speaker?
 Article 122(1) says: “The validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.”
 However, experts said that the courts do have jurisdiction to at least inquire into why there has been no election to the post of Deputy Speaker since the Constitution does envisage an election “as soon as may be”. 

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