Getting Un-Parliamentary Speeches Removed from Records

The Speaker has ordered that portions of a politician’s speech delivered in Lok Sabha be expunged — or removed — from the records of Parliament.

Immunity for parliamentary speeches under the Constitution

  • “No Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said…in Parliament or any committee thereof,” according to Article 105(2) of the Constitution.
  • Inside the House, however, MPs do not have the freedom to say whatever they want.
  • MPs’ speeches are subject to the Rules of Parliament, the “good sense” of its members, and the Speaker’s control of proceedings.
  • These safeguards ensure that MPs do not use “defamatory, indecent, undignified, or unparliamentary language” in the House.

What should Parliamentary speeches look like?

  • The Indian Parliament has a code of conduct requiring all members to speak civilly and courteously.
  • Unparliamentary speeches are not tolerated, and offenders may face suspension or expulsion from the chamber.
  • The Speaker has the authority to remove any unparliamentary speech from the House record and transcripts of the proceedings.

Disciplinary action for disruptive speeches

  • Any unparliamentary speech made in the Lok Sabha can be expunged by the Speaker.
  • In addition, the Speaker may refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further action.
  • The Speaker may also refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for further action, which may include fines and up to six months in prison.
  • The offender may also be ordered by the Speaker to apologise to the House.
  • The procedure with the Rajya Sabha Chairman is similar.

What exactly is speech omission?

  • The removal of specific words, sentences, or segments of a speech from the records is a fairly routine procedure that is carried out in accordance with established rules.
  • The Presiding Officer of the House makes the decision on which parts of the proceedings are to be omitted.

What are the rules on expunging from the record?

  • The procedure for removing a speech from the records is outlined in Rule 380 (“Expunction”) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • According to Rule 381, “the portion of the House proceedings so expunged shall be denoted by asterisks, and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as follows: ‘Expunged as ordered by the Chair.”

What happens after a word is removed?

  • Expunged portions of the proceedings no longer exist in the records of Parliament and cannot be reported by media outlets, even if they were heard during the live telecast of the proceedings.
  • However, the rise of social media has posed new challenges to the effective implementation of expunction orders.

Way ahead

  • Parliamentary speeches should be courteous, respectful, and dignified, with no personal attacks or slurs.
  • They should stay focused on the issue at hand and avoid partisanship.
  • There should be no offensive language used, and all debates should be held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
  • As a general rule, all speakers should be considerate of their colleagues and avoid personal criticism.
  • They should stick to the facts and avoid making speculative claims. Parliamentary speeches should be brief, to the point, and fact-based.
  • Finally, all speakers should remember their role as citizens’ representatives and strive to maintain the highest standards of public discourse.
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