ASSAULT ON SPEAKER’S CHAIR

12 February 2019 12:19 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • To the outside world the Speaker is the ‘Speaker’ and is the only mouth the House has
  • All the leaders of the democratic countries believe that the Speaker is the impartial Judge
  • The llife of a Speaker runs through beyond the life of a Parliament

 

 

It is reported that members of Parliament who have been identified for unruly behaviour, ignoring parliamentary ethics in the house, during two days of sittings last year, as the 52-day long political unrest surfaced may face judicial actions for violating parliamentary privileges and also obstructing the Speaker continually from performing his official duties. It is further reported that the Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri who headed the parliamentary committee that looked into the ugly behaviour of certain people’s representatives on November 14 and 15, 2018 have already identified the persons who have acted violating the laws of the country. 
The paramount importance of the Speaker for the smooth functioning and success of the deliberations of the Parliament had been well studied by Dr. N.M. Perera for his doctoral thesis submitted to the London School of Economics in 1931, under the guidance of Prof. Harold J. Laski. This was really, a well analytical contribution he made as a part of a larger work he attended to a few years later for the DSc of the same university. 


An important section of this deep and enumerative study, has been well highlighted by the Dr. N. M. PERERA CENTRE in its publication in 2002-PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY- under the heading SPEAKER AS THE GUARDIAN OF RIGHTS. 


At the very beginning of this chapter Dr. Perera says-‘Though no- where enjoined by law, the very first act of a new parliament is the election of the Speaker, that is someone to preside over its deliberations. No deliberative assembly however small its numbers, least of all this almost unwieldy British House of Commons, can dispense with this officer. Without him, it would be impossible to determine the order in which members should speak or decide between the conflicting claims of those who rise simultaneously...In the absence of such an officer no motion or question can be put to the House and its votes thereon taken. For this reason, if no other, he is a sine qua non.  


Almost all the leaders of the democratic countries believe that the Speaker is the impartial judge in all the quarrels and dissensions of the rival political parties which has representation in the House and it is widely regarded by constitutional specialists that the Speaker should be elected to the chair unopposed. This accepted principle is meant to ensure more authority to the person who holds this chair and the unanimous voice of the House carries more weight to glorify the importance of his functions and numerous duties. In short, speakership is regarded as an institution.


As a general rule, the life of a speaker runs through beyond the life of a Parliament. In the United Kingdom, he retains his office until the new parliament meets and elects a new speaker if the members want to instill new blood to the office. However, the successor should have some experience of the duties and assignments of the chair, before he is invited to undertake the responsibilities upon his shoulders. 


Dr. N.M. Perera enumerates in this paper the duties, responsibilities and varied functions of the Speaker in a more elaborate and convincing manner. He says “To the outside world the Speaker is the ‘Speaker’ and is the only mouth the House has. Not only is he alone entitled to speak on behalf of the whole House, but he is its sole official representative. He symbolizes the unity of a very diverse body. An honour done to him is an honour done to the House, an attack or reflection on his conduct in the Chair is an inroad into his privileges, and is visited with the severest condemnation. The mace, the symbol of his authority and dignity, accompanies him wherever he goes’. 


He is considered to be the agent of the House but always expected to perform these functions in accordance with the aspirations of the House. He conveys the appreciations of the House on various matters for the concerned people. Further, he is also expected to issue warrants to execute the orders of the House for the commitment of offenders, for the issue of writs, for the attendance of witnesses in custody and also for bringing up witnesses in custody. 


However, he is not expected to commit a member to the custody of the Sergeant-at Arms, unless directed by the House. He is vested with the duty of keeping order in the precincts of the House and has some statutory duties also to be performed.

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