78 opposition MPs were suspended from Parliament on Monday, in the highest number of suspensions in a day, triggering a strong reaction from the Congress and other parties that accused the BJP government of trying to bulldoze key legislations in an “Opposition-less” Parliament.
As many as 33 members were suspended from Lok Sabha followed by Rajya Sabha where 45 leaders were suspended after the Opposition refused to budge on their demand for a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah over the breach in Parliament security on December 13, when two protesters jumped into the lower house chamber and opened smoke cans.
Monday’s action has taken the total number of opposition MPs suspended from both houses to 92 since last Thursday on the issue. AAP member Sanjay Singh has been suspended as a Rajya Sabha member from July 24.
On Thursday, the Lok Sabha suspended 13 members for the remaining part of the Winter Session for waving placards and disrupting proceedings over the Parliament security breach issue. Trinamool member Derek O’Brien was suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the remainder of the Winter Session for unruly behaviour.
In the Lok Sabha, 33 members, including floor leaders of the Congress and DMK – the two large parties in the opposition, were suspended on Monday for unruly behaviour. While 30 members were suspended for the remainder of the Winter Session in Lok Sabha, three members were suspended, pending the report of the Privileges Committee. The three — K Jayakumar, Vijay Vasanth and Abdul Khaleque — had climbed on the Speaker’s podium to raise slogans.
Speaker Om Birla told the House about the steps taken by the Lok Sabha secretariat following the security breach incident on December 13 and sought cooperation from all members to run the House smoothly.
However, the opposition members were on their feet demanding a statement from Shah and his resignation. Some opposition MPs were also carrying placards with their demands written on them. Birla objected to the placards being brought into the Lok Sabha, saying it lowers the dignity of the House.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi also appealed to the opposition MPs “with folded hands” to not wave the placards, saying it was agreed at the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee not to carry placards. The opposition MPs ignored the appeals of Birla and Joshi, and continued their protests, resulting in the suspension of 33 members.
The Rajya Sabha also witnessed similar action. While 34 MPs were suspended for the remainder of the Winter session, 11 have been directed to stay away from the House pending an inquiry report on their conduct by the Committee of Privileges.
The members were suspended after the House adopted a motion moved by Leader of the House Piyush Goyal for suspension of 34 MPs for the remainder of the session and another one for referring cases of conduct of 11 other opposition MPs to the privileges committee. The Committee has been asked to submit its report within three months.
Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar first named the suspended members and then put the motion to vote, which was adopted by voice vote. The suspension triggered a political slugfest with opposition members terming the action as a “murder of democracy” and Goyal claiming that the action was necessary as the opposition MPs insulted the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman.
Accusing the Congress and its allies of “embarrassing” the country with their conduct, Goyal told reporters that opposition members brought placards and willfully disrupted parliamentary proceedings despite the decision taken earlier that placards would not be allowed in the Houses.
“It was clearly their preplanned strategy to not allow Parliament to run smoothly,” he said, noting that a bill to provide reservation to women in Jammu and Kashmir, and Puducherry was taken up for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha but protesting opposition members did not allow a discussion.
“The Congress and its allies are intrinsically against the interests of women and backward classes. Whenever the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes any step to empower backward classes and women, they are pained because the Congress and the Left are always against their empowerment,” Goyal said.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge accused the government of trying to bulldoze important draft legislation in an “Opposition-less” Parliament. “With an Opposition-Less Parliament, the Modi Government can now bulldoze important pending legislations, crush any dissent, without any debate,” Kharge said on X.
The government has listed three bills replacing the colonial era criminal law for consideration and passing in Parliament, besides the draft legislation to provide for a mechanism to appoint Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners is pending passage from the Lok Sabha.
Parliament watchers termed the mass suspensions as “unprecedented” and perhaps for the first time in the history of Parliament. “It is an unprecedented development for 78 parliamentarians to be suspended in a single day,” G Ravindra, a legislative expert and a keen watcher of Parliamentary proceedings said.
Past Precedents of such MPs Suspension
In 1989, 63 members of the Lok Sabha were suspended on March 15 for the remaining part of the week over the issue of tabling of the report of the Justice Thakkar Committee that inquired into the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 2015, the then Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspended 25 Congress members for the next five working days for protesting with placards in the Well of the House. In the 15th Lok Sabha, several members of the Congress were suspended from the House over the issue of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
Who are those suspended MPs?
Among those suspended on Monday were Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Gaurav Gogoi, K Suresh, Amar Singh, Rajamohan Unnithan, Su. Thirunavukkarasar, K Muraleedharan, Anto Antony (all from Congress) and Kalyan Banerjee, Aparupa Poddar, Prasun Banerjee, Sougata Ray, Satabdi Ray, Protima Mondal, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Asit Kumar Mal, Sunil Kumar Mondal (all from TMC).
Others were –T R Baalu, A Raja, Dayanidhi Maran, T Sumathy, K Navas Kani, Kalanidhi Veerasamy, C N Annadurai, S S Palanimanickam, G Selvam, S Ramalingam (all from DMK), ET Mohammed Basheer (IUML), N K Premachandran (RSP) and Kaushalendra Kumar (JD-U).
The suspended Rajya Sabha members are – Pramod Tiwari, Jairam Ramesh, Amee Yajnik, Naranbhai J Rathwa, Syed Nasir Hussain, Shrimati Phulo Devi Netam, Shaktisinh Gohil, K.C.Venugopal, Rajani Ashokrao Patil, Ranjeet Ranjan, Imran Pratapgarhi, Randeep Singh Surjewala (all Congress), while seven members are from TMC – Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Mohammed Nadimul Haque, Abir Ranjan Biswas, Santanu Sen, Mausam Noor, Prakash Chik Baraik and Samirul Islam.
Others suspended for the winter session are M Shanmugam, N. R. Elango, Kanimozhi NVN Somu, R. Girirajan (all DMK), Manoj Kumar Jha, Faiyaz Ahmad (both RJD), V. Sivadasan (CPI-M), Ram Nath Thakur, Aneel Prasad Hegde (both JD-U), Vandana Chavan NCP), Ram Gopal Yadav, Javed Ali Khan (both SP), Mahua Maji (JMM), Jose K. Mani (KC-M) and Ajit Kumar Bhuyan (IND).
The 11 opposition members whose names have been referred to the privilege committee are – Jebi Mather Hisham, L Hanumanthaiah, Neeraj Dangi, Rajmani Patel, Kumar Ketkar, G. C. Chandrashekhar (all Cong), Binoy Viswam, Sandosh Kumar P (both CPI), Mohamed Abdulla (DMK), John Brittas and A A Rahim (both CPI-M).
“Incidentally, I too figure in this Roll of Honour — for the first time in my parliamentary career of 19 years,” he said on X. “This is Murder of Democracy in India(MODI) at work!” “Tanashahi ka Doosra Naam ModiShahi hai— democracy has been suspended!” Ramesh said.
MPs being suspended for alleged disruption of proceedings
There is a precedented tradition of disrupting the proceedings of the Parliament irrespective of which alliance or which party enters the power.
“Over the years, four broad reasons have been identified for disorder in legislatures, Chakshu Roy, head of outreach at PRS Legislative Research”, wrote The Indian Express in 2022.
The Parliament tends to follow to the same archaic rules in this particular regard. The last time the rules regarding code of conduct of the MPs were decided dates back to more than 7 decades.
The most common grounds for disrupting the Parliament are as follows :
-Lack of time given to the MPs to raise and cover important matters.
-The unresponsive attitude by the Govt and retaliatory posture by the Treasury benches.
-Deliberate disruption by the parties either for publicity or political measures.
-The absence of prompt actions against MP disrupting the Parliamentary Proceedings.
Who can dismiss the MPs?
The Presiding Officers, i.e, the Speaker of LS and the Chairman of the RS play vital roles with respect to suspensions of the MPs.
In LS, the Speaker acts in accordance to the rules under section 373, 374 and 374A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. In RS, the Chairman acts accordance to the rules under section 255 and 256 of the Rules. The procedure is very similar in both the houses.