Suspension of MPs for disorderly conduct
(GS-II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)
Six Trinamool Congress MPs were ordered to leave the Rajya Sabha for rest of the day by the Rajya Sabha Chairman over “grossly disorderly” conduct, after they entered the well of the house and displayed placards while protesting over the Pegasus scandal.
Rule 255 of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha:
The Chairman invoked rule 255 to suspend them.
Under Rule 255 (‘Withdrawal of member’) of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha, “The Chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the Council and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting.”
How is suspension under Rule 255 different from Suspension under Rule 256?
Rule 256 provides for ‘Suspension of Member’; whereas Rule 255 provides for lesser punishment.
Under Rule 256, “the Chairman may, if he deems it necessary, suspend a member from the service of the Council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the Session.
Differences in powers of Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha:
Like the Speaker in Lok Sabha, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha is empowered under Rule Number 255 of its Rule Book to “direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately” from the House.
Unlike the Speaker, however, the Rajya Sabha Chairman does not have the power to suspend a Member.
Procedure to be followed for suspension of Rajya Sabha MPs:
The Chairman may “name a Member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing” business.
In such a situation, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
The House may, however, by another motion, terminate the suspension.
Efforts to bring order in the House:
As Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Vice-President Ansari had attempted several steps to bring order to the House. In 2013, he mooted a number of radical solutions to maintain decorum. This included:
Naming and shaming MPs in the Rajya Sabha bulletin for stepping outside House rules.
Those named were to include members who came into the Well, or indulged in other grossly disorderly behaviour.
The telecast of proceedings to be deferred to prevent visuals of disorder from being made public.
How can suspension of MPs be justified? Isn’t this an extreme step to take in order to curb unruly behaviour?
The solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.
There can be no question that the enforcement of the supreme authority of the Presiding Officer is essential for smooth conduct of proceedings.
However, a balance has to be struck. It must be remembered that the job of the Presiding Officer is to run the House, not to lord over it.
Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs)
(GS-II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes)
The Cabinet has approved the continuation of 1,023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) for another two years, at an outlay of ₹1,572.86 crore.
The Centre’s share of ₹971.70 crore will come from the Nirbhaya Fund.
About the scheme:
Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) are being setup as a part of the National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW).
The scheme was started in October 2019.
Implemented by the Department of Justice of the Ministry of Law and Justice.
It is a Centrally sponsored scheme for expeditious trial and disposal of pending cases of rape and offences against children under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012.
Features of the FTSCs scheme:
The decision on extension of the scheme beyond one year will depend on the recommendations in the external evaluation.
The scheme does not intend to create any permanent infrastructure. The courts will be made functional in suitable premises taken on lease or as decided by the States/UTs and respective High Courts.
Composition: Each FTSC will have one Judicial Officer and seven staff members. States/UTs may engage judicial officers and court staff on contractual basis where sufficient manpower is not available. Services of retired judicial officers with relevant experience may also be engaged to dispose of cases in the FTSCs.
Benefits and significance of the scheme:
The scheme includes 389 FTSCs exclusively for POCSO
Each FTSC is expected to dispose of 41-42 cases in each quarter and at least 165 cases in a year.
At the time the scheme was launched, the government had set a target of disposing of 1,66,882 cases of rape and POCSO Act cases pending trial in various courts.
Performance of the scheme:
So far, only 597 fast track courts out of the total 1,023 had been set up in the country and expressed its concern at the delay in implementing the scheme.
The offences of rape and gang rape of women and children require effective deterrence through fast and time-bound completion of trials relating to sexual offences.
(GS-II: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these)
The Union government has said that it is not considering any proposal to restore Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds for FY21 and FY22.
The government had in April, 2020 decided not to operate MPLADS for the Financial Years 2020-21 and 2021-22; and place the MPLADS funds for these two-years at the disposal of the Ministry of Finance to meet the emergent needs of people.
From ₹5,012 crore spent during 2018-19, an expenditure of just ₹2,491.45 crore was taken up under the scheme in 2019-20.
How was this fund utilised?
The government has said that the funds saved from the MPLAD Scheme have been utilised to enhance the allocation of funds for improving health infrastructure, provide free ration under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, and free vaccination for the people.
About MPLAD scheme:
Launched in December, 1993.
Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
Release of Funds:
Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.
The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.
Recommendation of works:
The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.
What is recusal or judicial disqualification of Judges?
(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)
Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana has recused himself from hearing a petition filed by Andhra Pradesh accusing Telangana of depriving its people of their legitimate share of water for drinking and irrigation.
Reason behind the recusal:
The Chief Justice said he recused from hearing because he hailed from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
What’s the case?
Andhra Pradesh has accused Telangana of refusing to follow the decisions taken on river water management in the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act of 2014. It said its neighbour also ignored the directions of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), constituted under the 2014 Act and directions of the Centre.
What is Judicial Disqualification or Recusal?
Judicial disqualification, referred to as recusal, is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.
Grounds for Recusal:
Are there any laws in this regard?
There are no definite rules on recusals by Judges.
However, In taking oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, promise to perform their duties, to deliver justice, “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.
What has the Supreme Court said on this?
Justice J. Chelameswar in his opinion in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015) held that “Where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias is required to be undertaken”.
Concerns/issues associated with recusal:
It allows litigants to cherry-pick a bench of their choice, which impairs judicial fairness.
Undermines both independence and raises questions on impartiality of the judges.
There are no rules to determine when the judges could recuse themselves. There are only different interpretations of the same situation.
Recusal may cause obstruction and delay the proceedings of the Courts.