The speaker of Lok Sabha ( House of the People) In India is the chief parliamentary officer of the Lower House of Indian Parliament. The Speaker’s office carries great honour and dignity. He uses his powers and performs his functions with complete independence and impartiality.
The Speaker of the House of the People is elected by the House from among its members as soon as a new House of the People is formed after the general election. But in practice the Speaker is the nominee of the majority party in the House of the People. The Speaker is elected for the life of the House i.e., five Years. But he may be removed from his office earlier by a resolution of the House. Such a resolution requires fourteen day’s notice and the resolution must be passed by majority, of all the members of the House of the People present and voting.
One of the distinctive features of the office of the Speaker is that he does not vacate his office even when the House of the people is dissolved. He may continue to remain in office until a new Speaker is elected by the House.
The importance of the Lok Sabha Speaker is seen from the powers and functions that he performs and exercises. Our Speaker possesses almost the same powers as the Speaker of the British House of Commons. The Speaker presides over the meetings of the House. The primary duty of the speaker is to control debate. It is also his responsibility to see that parliamentary time is used properly. He may adjourn the House. If there is no quorum, he may suspend the meeting of the House. No member of the Lok Sabha has the power to speak without his consent. The members of House of the People address the Speaker only. He interprets the rules of procedure of the House.
In the house of the People, voting takes place under the direction of the Speaker. It is his duty to declare the final result. The Speaker is not entitled to vote in the first instance. But he may exercise a casting vote in case of a tie. The decision of the Speaker is final on the question whether a particular bill is a money bill or not. The Speaker decides whether a member of the House of the People should be allowed to speak in his mother tongue. The Speaker also presides over the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament summoned by the President of India. He does not allow any member to hamper the dignity of the House. Lastly, he is the guardian of the rights and privileges of the Members—from the Prime Minister down to the ordinary members of the House of the People. It is again the Speaker who maintains a close contact between the President and the House of the People.
At the emergent conference of the Speaker of India, held at Delhi, it has been pointed out that the Speaker should not do anything which makes it impossible for the ministry to seek a vote of confidence of the House. The Speaker cannot claim the inherent right to override the House because the legislature is supreme, not the Speaker. Again, the Speaker has no power to review the constitutionality of any ministry. In other words, he has no power to declare a ministry legal or illegal. The first and foremost duty of the Speaker is to enable the House to function at all times. He should discharge his duties independently and impartiality.
So far as the position is concerned, our Speaker stands midway between the British Speaker and the American Speaker.
In India, the speaker is not independent and impartial. He does not “wear the white flower of a neutral political life”. The Speaker’s office is hotly contested.
It has been pointed out that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha may be the member of a political party. But he must not actively participate in the activities of the party to which he belongs. The office of the Speaker of India should be occupied by men of outstanding personality and impartially. In short, the Speaker of the House of the People should be a true symbol of the dignity and independence of the House as well as the guardian of the rights and privileges of it members.