Important Offices in Parliament House – Indian Polity UPSC

Speaker

  • The House of the people is presided over by the Speaker who is elected by the House from among its own members.
  • He has to discharge his responsibilities as a presiding officer. He brings the detachment and objectivity to bear upon all his decision.
  • He presides over the meetings of the House. He adjourns the House or suspends its meeting if there is no quorum.
  • Article 94 (c) provides for the removal of the Speaker by a resolution of the House passed by a majority of all the then members of the House.
  • Removal of officers from their position in this manner, namely, by such special resolutions and by such special majorities is restricted to only a few officers such as the President, the Vice-President, the Presiding Officers of both House of Parliament, Judges of the Supreme Court, etc, as these officers are expected to discharge their responsibilities without political and party considerations.

Deputy Speaker

  • The Deputy Speaker who presides over the House in the absence of the Speaker is elected in the same manner in which the Speaker is elected by the House.
  • He can be removed from office also in the same manner.
  • When he sits in the seat of the Speaker, he has all the powers of the Speaker and can perform all his functions. One of his special privileges is that when he is appointed as a member of a Parliamentary Committee, he automatically becomes its Chairman.
  • By virtue of the office that he holds, he has a right to be present at any meeting of any Committee if he so chooses and can preside over its deliberations. His rulings are generally final in any case, so far as they are related to the matter under discussion, but the Speaker may give guidance in the interest of uniformity in practice. Whenever the Deputy Speaker is in doubt, he reserves the matter for the ruling of the Speaker.
  • The Deputy Speaker, however, is otherwise like any ordinary member when the Speaker presides over the House.
  • He may speak like any other member, maintain his party affiliation and vote on propositions before the House as any ordinary member.
  • The Deputy Speaker is entitled to a regular salary.

Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Council of States

  • While presiding officers of the Lok Sabha are called the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, their opposite officers in the Council of States are called the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman respectively.
  • The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States. 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.

Duties:

    • 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.
    • 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 as the President. 
    • As a presiding officer of the Council he is also given a regular salary and other allowances that Parliament by law has fixed. The Council of States also has a panel of members, 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.

Removal – He may be removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all the member of the Council.

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 perform such function.

Leader of the Opposition

  • In each House of Parliament, there is the Leader of the Opposition‘.
  • The leader of the largest Opposition party having not less than one-tenth seats of the total strength of the House is recognized as the leader of the Opposition in that House.
  • In a parliamentary system of government, the leader of the opposition has a significant role to play. His main functions are to provide a constructive criticism of the policies of the government and to provide an alternative government. Therefore, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were accorded statutory recognition in 1977.
  • They are also entitled to the salary, allowances and other facilities equivalent to that of a Cabinet Minister. It was in 1969 that an official leader of the opposition was recognized for the first time. The same functionary in USA is known as the minority leader.

Whip

  • 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 behavior in the Parliament.
  • The members are supposed to follow the directives given by the whip. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken.