Independence of the Speaker

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The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Karnataka assembly disqualification case has expressed grave concern about the increasing partisan role in the functioning of the Speaker. In contrast, the evolution of parliamentary democracy reached a new milestone in the country of its birth, England. John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2009 to 2019, acted with such independence and autonomy that was unheard of in our parliamentary system, at least in the last few decades.

In a parliamentary democracy, it is imperative that the legislature functions effectively and independently rather than being controlled by the government of the day. Herein lies the paradox. Theoretically, the government is answerable to Parliament, but, in practice, the government, which has a comfortable majority, controls Parliament through its sheer strength of numbers. This happened in the days of Congress’s hegemony, particularly during the prime ministership of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and again is a reality today, in a time of the dominance of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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Updated On : 22nd Nov, 2019

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