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Indian Polity

Expunging in Parliament

  • 10 Feb 2023
  • 3 min read

For Prelims: Unparliamentary Words, Expunging, Article 105(2) of Constitution.

For Mains: Rules on Expunging, Procedure Related to Expunging.

Why in News?

A portion of a speech delivered by the opposition leader in the Lok Sabha on February 7th, 2023 were expunged from the records of Parliament by the Speaker's orders.

  • The decision of what parts of a speech are to be expunged lies with the Presiding Officer of the House.

What are the Rules on Expunging from the Record?

  • Under Article 105(2) of the Indian Constitution , Members of Parliament enjoy immunity from court proceedings for their statements in Parliament.
    • However, their speeches are subject to the discipline of the Rules of Parliament, the "good sense" of its Members, and the control of proceedings by the Speaker.
  • Rule 380 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha gives the Speaker the discretion to expunge any words or expressions used in debate that are considered defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified.

What are Unparliamentary Expressions?

  • The Lok Sabha Secretariat has brought out a bulky volume of ‘Unparliamentary Expressions’.
    • This book contains words or expressions that would likely be considered rude or offensive in most cultures. But it also contains content that would appear to be fairly harmless and innocuous.
  • The Presiding Officers - Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairperson of Rajya Sabha have the job of keeping such words out of Parliament’s records.

How is the Decision to Expunge a Word (or portion of a speech) Taken?

  • The decision to expunge a word or portion of a speech is taken by the Speaker under Rule 380, based on a recommendation from the head of the reporting section, taking into account the context in which the word or sentence was used.
  • The context is key in making the decision to expunge a remark. The focus is on removing the minimum number of words.
    • Rule 381 says: The portion of the proceedings of the House so expunged shall be marked by asterisks and an explanatory footnote shall be inserted in the proceedings as follows: ‘Expunged as ordered by the Chair’.
  • The expunged portions cease to exist in the records of Parliament and cannot be reported by media houses, although they may have been heard during the live telecast of the proceedings.
  • However, the proliferation of social media has introduced challenges in implementing expunction orders.

Source: IE

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