Immediately after the General Election the Lok Sabha elects its own Presiding Officer who is known as the Speaker.
The House also elects a Deputy Speaker. The Speaker is the Presiding Officer of the Lok Sabha and his Office is of great dignity, prestige and authority.
The Office of the Speaker has been held in great esteem in the Parliamentary Government of England. For successful wording of the Parliamentary system of Government, impartial and nonpartisan Speaker is essential.
Generally speaking the Speaker of India has a similar position like that of the Speaker of the British House of Commons. The following are some of the important functions of the Speaker.
Functions of the Speaker :
(1) He presides over the meetings of the Lok Sabha and conducts its proceedings. He decides who will speak and all speeches of the members of the House are addressed to the Chair. He adjourns the House or suspends its meetings if there is no quorum.
(2) He maintains perfect order and discipline in the House. He can cheek the indiscipline and disorder and stop members from using irrelevant and unparliamentary language. If a member does not obey his order, he can ask him to withdraw from the House or he may suspend him from attending the remaining days of session of House. He can expunge remarks made by any member from the Proceeding of the House, if such remarks are derogatory or “”Parliamentary.
(3) In consultation with the Leader of the House, the Speaker determines the order of the business, the time to be allowed to the debates on the President Address and the days to be devoted to the private Member’s Bills.
(4) He is “the final judge on the admissibility of the questions, resolutions and motions.
(5) He is the sole authority for giving priority to anything that may be placed before the House for the national interest.
(6) He is not expected to give reasons for his decisions and his decisions are not subject to challenge by any member.
(7) The Speaker is to decide whether or not a bill is a money bill. His decision in this respect is final. He will have to endorse such a bill before it is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha or presented to the President for his assent. He is to be consulted along with the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha by the President while making a provision for the joint meeting of the two Houses. In such meetings it is the Speaker’s right to preside.
(8) Lastly, the Speaker has a number of miscellaneous functions to perform. In case of tie he has a casting vote in his pocket. Any member of the House who resigns his office should address his letter of resignation to him. He is the guardian and custodian of Rights and Privileges of the members of the Parliament.
He is the supreme head of all Parliamentary Committees and he may issue directions to the Chairman of those Committees relating to their efficient working. He is also the Ex-Officio Chairman of a few Committees of the House such as the Business Advisory Committee, Rules Committees and General Purposes Committee.
All Communications between the Parliament and the President take place through the Speaker. The Speaker signs all bills passed by the Lok Sabha before they are sent to the Rajya Sabha or to the President. In short, he is the representative of the House itself in its powers, proceedings prestige and dignity.
Even if the House is dissolved, the Speaker does not vacate his office. He will continue in his office till the new House meets and a new Speaker is elected. The Lok Sabha has its own Secretariat and the administration of the Secretariat is left to the Speaker.
The Office of the Speaker is held in great respect in all parliamentary democracies. The decision of the Speaker is not subject to the review of the Court. Being the guardian of rights and privileges of its members, the Speaker has the right to punish its members or non-members, for the breach of its privileges. The office of Speaker is held with great respect and dignity in England.
There is a healthy convention in England that once the Speaker is elected, lie resigns from his party and in the subsequent elections he is elected unopposed. Thus in England once who is a Speaker continues to be so as long as he likes.
This convention in British Constitution has kept the office of the Speaker above party politics and it has made the office of the Speaker absolutely impartial. Such a convention has not yet grown in India. The Speakers’ Conference held in 1951 unanimously adopted the following resolution:-
“This Conference is of the opinion that it is desirable in the interests of the development of free democratic institutions it this country that following the practice in the British House of Commons a convention should be established to the effect that the seat from which the Speaker or the Chairman stands for re-election should not be contested in the Elections that are held from time to time.
The necessary corollary of the full establishment of this convention would be that the Speaker or Chairman would not take part in party politics. This Conference feels that such a convention is a healthy one and its growth should be encouraged”.
The first Speaker of the Lok Sabha was G. V. Mavalankar (1952-62). Mr. Anatha Sayanam Ayyangar was the Speaker of the Second Lok Sabha (1956-62). All the Speakers of the Lok Sabha are men of reputation and they have brought up a healthy tradition of impartiality and dignity to the office of the Speaker.