Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament

Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament

This article deals with ‘Parliament – Presiding Officers and Leaders in Parliament .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Presiding Officers

There are following Presiding Officers in the Parliament

Lok Sabha Speaker & Deputy Speaker
Rajya Sabha Chairman & Deputy Chairman

1 . Speaker of Lok Sabha

Election of Lok Sabha

  • Elected by members of Lok Sabha from among themselves.

Tenure of Lok Sabha

  • Generally holds office during life of Lok Sabha
  • Has to vacate his office in following conditions
    • He ceases to be member of Lok Sabha
    • He resigns writing to Deputy Speaker
    • Removed by resolution passed by Absolute Majority of Lok Sabha  (Exact wording – Speaker may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of all the then members of the Assembly)
  • When Lok Sabha is dissolved, Speaker don’t vacate his office and continues till newly elected Lok Sabha meets.

Powers of Lok Sabha

  • He maintains order & decorum of the house
  • He is final interpreter of provisions of constitution & rules of procedure wrt  Lok Sabha.  
  • He adjourns the house or suspends it in absence of Quorum
  • He presides over the Joint Sitting of two Houses of Parliament
  • He can allow secret sitting of house on request of Leader of the house
  • He decides whether bill is Money Bill or not and his decision is final
  • He decides the question of disqualification of Lok Sabha arising out of provisions of 10th Schedule .
  • He appoints Chairman to the Parliamentary Committees & himself is chairman of Business Advisory Committee, Rules Committee & General Purpose Committee

Independence & Impartiality of Lok Sabha

  • Provided with security of tenure & can be removed only by Absolute Majority
  • Salaries and allowances charged on Consolidated Fund of India
  • His work & conduct can’t be discussed or criticized in Lok Sabha
  • His powers of regulating house are not subject to judicial review
  • He cant cast vote at first instance and cast vote only in case of tie
  • Given high position in order of precedence(7 equal to Chief Justice of India)

2. Deputy Speaker

  • Also elected by Lok Sabha . His election occurs after election of Speaker
  • His tenure terms are same as that of Speaker
  • He performs all the duties of Speaker when Speaker is absent
  • His position is not subordinate to Speaker & he is directly responsible to Parliament
  • Special Privilege whenever he is appointed as member of Parliamentary committee, he automatically becomes its Chairman
  • When Speaker presides over the House, he acts as ordinary member of House

Panel of Chairpersons

  • Speaker nominates from Lok Sabha, not more than 10 members as Panel of Chairpersons and when both Speaker & Deputy are absent , anybody from them can act as Speaker
  • But when office of both Speaker & Deputy are vacant, then Speaker’s duty is  performed by such person appointed by President.

Speaker Pro tem

  • Speakers Office don’t fall vacant with dissolution of Lok Sabha but just before the first meeting of new house
  • When new house meet for first time, house is Presided by Speaker Pro Tem, who by convention is seniormost member in house and functions are
    1. Administer oath to new members
    2. Enables house to elect new Speaker


  • By Convention, Speaker and Deputy Speakers are from following parties
Speaker From Ruling Party
Deputy Speaker From Opposition Party
  • First Speaker and Deputy Speakers were as follows
Speaker GV Mavlankar
Deputy speaker A Ayyangar

Analysis : Partisan role played by Speakers (of Legislative Assembly & Lok Sabha)

  1. Partisan roles played by the Speaker
    • In Uttarakhand case, disqualified rebel members to change composition of the house to enable Government survive No Confidence Motion
    • Suspension of all the principal opposition parties in the legislative assembly of Gujarat and TN 
  2. Role in Anti-Defection Law
    • Speaker acts as Tribunal in deciding matters of disqualification under Defection
    • Due to this, Speakers keep on sitting on files and don’t decide the matter in case of defection by Opposition Legislators. This happened in Telangana, AP etc
  3. Deciding Ordinary Bills as Money Bills as happened in various cases like Aadhar Act.

Changes required wrt powers of Speaker

  • Powers under Schedule 10 should be transferred to Election Commission of India
  • After getting elected as Speaker, he/she must resign from the party membership as practiced in matured democracies like UK. Also, his constituency should go uncontested in the next general election.

3. Chairman of  Rajya Sabha

  • Vice President of India is ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha
  • During any period he acts as President, he don’t perform this duty
  • While presiding  Rajya Sabha, he has same powers as Speaker excluding
    • He cant decide whether Bill is Money Bill or Ordinary Bill
    • Can’t preside over Joint Sitting
  • Unlike Speaker , Chairman is not member of Rajya Sabha
  • He cant vote in first instance but can vote in case of tie
  • His salary and allowance are charged on consolidated fund of India

4. Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha

  • Elected by Rajya Sabha from among themselves
  • Has to vacate his office in following conditions
    • He ceases to be member of Rajya Sabha
    • He resigns writing to  Chairman
    • Removed by resolution passed by Absolute Majority of Rajya Sabha
  • He performs all the duties of Chairman when Chairman  is absent
  • His position is not subordinate to Chairman & he is directly responsible to Rajya Sabha
  • When Chairman presides the house, he acts as ordinary member of Rajya Sabha

Panel of Vice – Chairpersons

  • Chairman nominates from Rajya Sabha,  members as Panel of Vice-Chairpersons and when both Chairman & deputy are absent anybody from them can act as Speaker
  • But when office of both Chairman & Deputy are vacant, then Chairman’s duty are performed by such person appointed by President

Leaders in Parliament

1 . Leader of House

  • Not mentioned in Constitution but Rules of Houses
  • Leader of House means Prime Minister if he is member of Lok Sabha or any Minister appointed by him to function as Leader of House
  • Rajya Sabha too has leader of House like Lok Sabha
  • USA equivalent of Majority Leader

2. Leader of Opposition

  • Not mentioned in Constitution but Rules of Houses
  • Leader of the largest opposition party not having less than 1/10 of the total strength of house
  • Both Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha has this office
  • 1969: Office created &1977 : Given Statutory Status
  • Entitled to Salary, Allowances& Facilities equivalent to Cabinet Minister
  • Minute version of Shadow Cabinet of Britain & US equivalent of Minority Leader

3. Whip

  • Neither Constitutional nor in rules of Houses but purely Conventional office
  • He communicates the decision of the party leader to the members and the opinion of the party members to the party leader.
  • Members are supposed to follow the directives given by the Whip. Failing to do so can invite disciplinary actions like disqualification from party membership or expulsion under the Anti Defection Law.

Significance  of Whip

  • Stability of Government: by ensuring favourable voting during passage of bills and motions
  • Ensuring Attendance in Parliament for widespread discussion on important issues.


  • Restricted internal democracy of the party 
  • Against the Constitutional Philosophy : Individual members are  not allowed to represent their individual views or  views of the people of their constituency.
  • It creates a ‘forced consensus’
  • Poor Quality of Debates:  legislators are not allowed to dissent on important  issue from party line.

Way forward

  • Issuance of a whip could be limited to only those bills that could threaten the survival of a government, such as money bills or no-confidence motions.

Notes : In USA, party whip’s role is to gauge how many legislators are in support of a bill and how many are opposed to it — and to the extent possible, persuade them to vote according to the party line on the issue

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