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When Is A Member Of Parliament Suspended? Previous Occasions When MPs Were Suspended For A Long Period

Prior to Tuesday's suspension of 19 Rajya Sabha MPs, the earlier record for most Rajya Sabha MPs suspended in a single instance was 12 on November 29 2021.

Parliament of India
Parliament of India File photo

As many as 23 Members of Parliament of Opposition parties were suspended on Monday and Tuesday. While four Congress MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha on Monday, 19 members were suspended on Tuesday.

While Congress Lok Sabha members were suspended for the rest of the monsoon session, the Rajya Sabha members were suspended for rest of the week. 

These suspensions come amid a face-off between the government and the Opposition over issues of inflation and Goods and Services Tax's (GST) imposition on everyday essentials such as packaged and labelled pulses, wheat, rice, flour, and curd.

Here we explain the current suspensions, what is the process through which an MP can be suspended, and previous instances of suspensions.

Why have MPs been suspended now?

Opposition MPs have beens stalling parliamentary proceedings since the start of the monsoon session on July 18 over price rise and the levy of the GST on daily essentials.

The Rajya Sabha MPs on Tuesday were suspended as they did not heed to Deputy Chairman Harvansh's repeated pleas to leave the Well of the House and go back to their seats. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan moved a motion to suspend 10 MPs, but when it was adopted by a voice vote, Harivansh read out the names of 19 members who have been suspended for the rest of the week.

Harivansh said the MPs were suspended for showing "utter disregard" to the House and the authority of the Chair. The Chair asked the suspended members to leave the House, but they kept protesting in the Well, leading to two adjournments.

On Monday, four Congress MPs were suspended for displaying placards and disrupting proceedings despite a warning by Speaker Om Birla.

How are Lok Sabha MPs suspended?

There are rules that govern the suspension of members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

In the Lok Sabha, Rules 374 and 374(A) give the Speaker the power to suspend a member either through a motion or by themselves. 

Such an action may be taken if a member "disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business", according to Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. 

In such a case, the Speaker may name the member and they may be suspended following a motion for a period not more than the remainder of the session.

Rule 374(A) gives power to the Speaker to "automatically suspend" a member in case of "grace disorder".

"In the event of grave disorder occasioned by a member coming into the Well of the House or abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such member shall, on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less," according to rules published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

In both the cases, suspended members are supposed to leave the House. On Monday, the suspended MPs were accused of "utter disregard" and entering the Well of the House. Moreover, the MPs did not leave the House even after suspension. 

How are Rajya Sabha MPs suspended?

In the Rajya Sabha, the suspension of a member is govered by Rule 256. Unlike the Lok Sabha, Deccan Herald notes, the Rajya Sabha Chairperson does not have the power to suspend a member.

Similar to Lok Sabha, a Rajya Sabha member can be suspended if the member "disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and willfully obstructing the business thereof", according Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business In the Council of States, published by Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

The Rajya Sabha Chair can only suspend a member through a motion. The Chair names a member, following which the House takes up a motion to suspend that member for a period not more than the remaining of the session, according to Rule 256(2).

While the Chair cannot suspend a member by themselves, the Chair can ask the member to leave the House.

Rule 255 dictates: "The Chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the Council and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting." 

Notable instances of MPs' suspensions

Prior to Tuesday's suspension of 19 Rajya Sabha MPs, the earlier record for most Rajya Sabha MPs suspended in a single instance was 12 on November 29 2021. 

"This House takes cognisance and strongly condemns the utter disregard to the authority of the Chair, complete abuse of rules of the House persistently thereby wilfully obstructing the business of House through their unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, unruly and violent behaviour and intentional attacks on security personnel on the last day of 254th Session of Rajya Sabha i.e. August 11," said the notice suspending the members at the time, as quoted by India Today.

Here are other major instances of suspensions of MPs:

1. Eight Opposition MPs suspended in September 2020

Eight Opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha were suspended in September 2020, including Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien and Sanjay Singh of Aam Aadmi Party. This was around the time the Opposition and large sections of the farmers' community were protesting against now-withdrawn farm laws.

PTI at the time reported, "Opposition members, objecting to the manner in which the two farm bills were being passed, had on Sunday stormed the well of the House and when their demand for voting wasn't met, they tore papers, climbed on tables, shouted slogans, and allegedly threw the rule book at Harivansh, who was presiding at that time."

2. Seven Rajya Sabha members were suspended in 2010

Seven Rajya Sabha members were suspended over "unruly behaviour" over the Women's Reservation Bill in March 2010.

3. 25 Lok Sabha members suspended in 2015

In 2015, 25 Lok Sabha MPs of the Congress party were suspended. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspended the MPs for "persistently, wilfully obstructing" the House by displaying placards and shouting slogans, according to PTI.

4. Eight Lok Sabha MPs suspended in 2012

In April 2012, eight members were suspended for four days from Lok Sabha, according to The Times of India. 

5. 12 Lok Sabha members suspended in 2013

In August 2013, 12 members were suspended, according to The Times of India.  

6. 63 MPs in Lok Sabha suspended in 1989

On 15 March 1989, 63 Lok Sabha MPs were suspended for a week over commotion over the report of Thakkar Commission into the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, according to PRS Legislative Research.

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