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INDIA: CEREMONY AND RITUALS


All part of the ceremony: The mounted horsemen that escort the President to deliver his/her Address


President’s Address to both Houses of Parliament, ad hoc Committees were appointed to investigate the conduct of Members in connection with the disorder created. In 1963, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha nominated a Committee to investigate the behaviour of the five Members at the centre of the disorderly conduct at the time of the President’s Address. Consequently, their report outlined certain norms of conduct for Members during the President’s Address. The Committee’s report of the second incident in 1971 formulated guidelines for the conduct of Members and maintenance of order, dignity and decorum on the occasion of the President’s Address to the House(s) of Parliament under articles 86 or 87 of the constitution. In an unanimous Resolution adopted at


the Golden Jubilee Commemorative Session of the Lok Sabha on 1 September 1997, it was inter alia resolved that efforts to interrupt or interfere with the President’s Address should invariably be stopped (see Appendix I).


Election of Speaker of the Lok Sabha


The institution of Speaker or President (as the Speaker was called until 1947) dates back to 1921 when the Central Legislative Assembly was constituted for the first time under the Montague-Chelmsford reforms. The first Speaker was Sir Frederick Whyte, who was appointed by the British colonial government. The first Indian Speaker, Vithalbhai Patel, was elected in 1925 and defeated the candidate supported by the


194 | The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three


British colonial government. In India, the Presiding Officers more or less follow the traditions and conventions established by the Speakers of the British House of Commons. The Speaker is elected by Members of the Lok Sabha usually on the third day of a new Parliament following a general election and subsequent to Members having taken their oaths and made their affirmations, presided over by the Speaker Pro tem. Prior to the Speaker’s election, discussions take place among parties over suitable candidates. It is customarily considered to be the ruling party’s prerogative to choose the Speaker and the prerogative of the Opposition to choose the Deputy Speaker, although this is not always followed in practice. Nominations are filed prior


to the election. Members of the Lok Sabha, usually party leaders, move their motions for an election based on the nominations they have filed. If parties agree on a candidate, they will move more than one motion in favour of the same candidate. In the past, Members have commented that co-operation between parties and a unanimous election of a Speaker is desirable. The chamber has witnessed disorderly scenes in the past when it was perceived that there was a lack of consultation between the government and opposition parties.


A notable difference between the practice in Westminster and the practice in India is that there are no “hustings” in India. Candidates for the role of Speaker do not make speeches in the chamber of the Lok


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