The country yesterday saw shameful visuals of ruckus in the Rajya Sabha as the agricultural reform bills were being passed. The unruly members stormed the well and reached the deputy chairman’s seat,broke his microphone, copies of draft were torn, and rule book flung towards the chair.
Sanjay Singh of AAP, Rajiv Satav of Congress and Derek O’Brian of TMC showed particularly uncouth behaviour. Sanjay Singh even grabbed a Rajya Sabha Marshal by the throat in true goonda fashion. Sanjay Singh and Rajiv Satav climbed onto the Secretary General’s table at the centre of the house! At one point, marshals had to form a human wall between the Deputy Chairman and these members.
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) September 20, 2020
Later on they also submitted a resolution against newly elected Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, Harivansh and claimed that this is a “murder of democracy” and that rules were not followed. Vice President Venkaiya Naidu, who is also ex-officio chairman of Rajya Sabha, today suspended 8 members from Rajya Sabha for rest of the session. These MPs, apart from Sanjay Singh and Derek O’Brian, included Rajiv Satav, KK Ragesh, Ripun Bora, Dola Sen, Syed Nazir Hussain and Elamaran Kareem.
Strongly condemning the ruckus, VP Naidu said: “I was deeply pained by what happened yesterday. All social distancing and Covid protocols were violated. Whatever happened, defied logic. It was a bad day for the Rajya Sabha. The deputy chairman was physically threatened. I was worried for his physical well-being.”
“You have no right to obstruct the chair and the business in the House. It tarnishes the image of the House. Is it a Parliamentary standard? I suggest the members to do some introspection. If the marshals were not called on time, what would have happened?” he asked.
The Vice President also rejected the resolution to remove the Deputy Chairman, Harivansh, on the grounds that proper procedure was not followed and that a 14-day notice was required to do the same.
However, even after the suspension, they refused to leave Rajya Sabha and made the functioning of Rajya Sabha impossible. Derek refused to leave the house even after being named. The house had to be adjourned five times due to their antics. Later they protested in the premises alleging “murder of democracy” and got support from usual suspects including Mamta Bannerjee and Rahul Gandhi.
The suspension of members of Rajya Sabha is guided by the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States“. According to rule 256(1)
“The Chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and willfully obstructing the business thereof”
The clause (2) in Rule 256 deals with the duration of the suspension and reads as:-
“If a member is so named by the Chairman he shall forthwith put the question on a motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, that the member (naming him) be suspended from the service of the Council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the Session:
Provided that the Council may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.”
The clause (3) in Rule 256 says that :-
“A member suspended under this rule shall forthwith quit the precincts of the Council.”
Clearly, it were the suspended members, who disregarded the rules and broke all Parliamentary conventions by their uncouth behaviour and obstinate refusal to leave when suspended.
It is pertinent to note that this is the highest punishment a member can undergo for his deeds within the house. Even if his actions are utterly reprehensible and criminal, he cannot be removed from the membership. Even his pay and allowances cannot be deducted for any such behaviour.
It is clear that the makers of these rules did not anticipate that one day we shall see such uncivilized behaviour in Rajya Sabha. These rules need urgent amendments and members should have an incentive to behave responsibly within the confines of the house. If such hooliganism is allowed to continue in the name of democracy, the day is not far when Parliament will become much like the streets of Bengal or Kerala.
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