Legislative Assembly (also known as Vidhan Sabha) is the lower house of the bicameral states and sole house of the unicameral states. This article contain details of election, vacancy, powers and functions of the Speaker of State Legislative Assembly in India.
Article 178 of the Indian Constitution provides for a Speaker to preside over the sessions of the Legislative Assembly of an Indian State as Article 93 provides for a similar Speaker in the Lok Sabha.
The office of the Indian Speakers has been modeled on the office of the Speaker in the House of Commons in England. Indian Speaker also enjoys powers and position similar to those of the British Speaker.
Election of the Speaker: The constitution of India provides that after every general election, the Legislative Assembly in a State, at its very first session shall elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker, from among its members. During the absence of the Speaker from office, the Deputy Speaker takes over his office. The Speaker generally belongs to the ruling party.
The Speaker remains in office till the next Speaker is sworn in.
Vacancy: A vacancy in the Speaker’s office may arise :
- (1) if he resigns
- (2) is removed from office by a resolution of the Assembly,
- (3) if he ceases to be a member of the House, and
- (4) if he dies.
Removal: The removal of the Speaker through a resolution of the Assembly requires 14 day’s notice, when a motion for his removal is discussed in the Assembly, the Speaker does not preside over the Assembly.
Powers and Functions: The important function of the Speaker is to preside over the sessions of the Legislative Assembly and to maintain order and discipline within the House.
- The Speaker does not take part in the debate and usually does not vote except to break a tie.
- When the Assembly meets, the Speaker calls the House to order, maintains discipline in the House.
- He sees whether there is necessary quorum.
- He may adjourn or suspend the sitting of the House if necessary quorum is not there, or to restore discipline.
- He may even suspend or expel members of the House for unruly behaviour.
Within the House, the Speaker is the master. It is the Speaker who decides whether a bill is a money bill or not. The Speaker’s decision cannot be challenged in a Court of Law. Money bills are sent to the Upper House with the Speaker’s certificate that it is a money bill. The salary of the Speaker is charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State.
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over joint sessions of the Parliament. The constitution does not provide for joint sessions of State Legislatures even where the State Legislatures are bicameral.
Conclusion: The position of the Speaker is not one of enormous power but it is certainly of dignity and prestige. The Speaker acts as neutral umpire between the ruling party and the opposition. A important responsibility of the Speaker is to see that the opposition gets enough scope to criticize the Government.