Expunction in Parliamentary Proceedings

Context

The first special session of the 18th Lok Sabha concluded amid disputes regarding the removal of remarks made by Opposition leaders in both Houses of Parliament. Expunction refers to the parliamentary procedure where specific remarks are removed from the official records.

Rules Governing Expunction

  • Article 105: Grants MPs the freedom of speech, subject to constitutional provisions and House rules.
  • Expunction Criteria: Remarks that are defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified can be expunged. Additionally, comments that could harm national interest, foreign relations, or are derogatory to dignitaries and offensive to national sentiments may also be expunged.
  • Unparliamentary Words: The Lok Sabha Secretariat maintains a list of words and expressions deemed unparliamentary.

Process of Expunction

  • Authority: The Rajya Sabha Chairman (under Rule 261) and the Lok Sabha Speaker (under Rules 380 and 381) have the authority to order expunctions.
  • Official Records: Expunged portions are marked with asterisks in the official records.
  • Media: A list of expunged words is circulated to media outlets.

Special Considerations

  • Rule 353 of Lok Sabha: Specifies procedures for making allegations against colleagues or outsiders, requiring MPs to provide “adequate advance notice” to the Speaker and the concerned Minister.
  • Allegations Against Ministers: Generally permitted as part of parliamentary accountability, but MPs must follow a procedure established by the Speaker.
  • Objectionable Remarks: MPs must withdraw objectionable remarks upon the Chair’s request or face expunction.

Expunction and Defamation

  • Application: Expunction should be applied only when allegations are genuinely defamatory or incriminatory.
  • Comments on Public Servants: Comments on the conduct of public servants in their official capacity or on their character, as observed in their official conduct, are not considered defamation and do not necessarily fall under Rule 353 or Rule 380.

 

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