Speaker and Pro-Tem Speaker in Lok Sabha:
• The Speaker of the Lok Sabha is the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha. The speaker is elected generally in the very first meeting of the Lok Sabha following general elections.
• Serving for a term of five years, the speaker is chosen from sitting members of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and is by convention a member of the ruling party or alliance.
• MP’s propose a name to Pro tem speaker. These names are notified to the President of India. President through their aid Secretary-General notifies the election date. If only one name is proposed, Speaker is elected without any formal vote.
• However, if more than 1 nominations are received. A division (vote) is called. MPs vote for their candidate on such date notified by President. The successful candidate is elected as Speaker of the Lok Sabha until the next general election.
• The Deputy Speaker presides over the Lok Sabha when the Speaker is absent from the sitting of the House.
• The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha provide that at the commencement of the House or from time to time, as the case may be, the Speaker shall nominate from amongst the Members a Panel of not more than ten Chairpersons, any one of whom may preside over the House in the absence of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker when so requested by the Speaker or, in the absence of the Speaker, by the Deputy Speaker. A Chairperson so nominated holds office until a new Panel of Chairpersons is nominated unless he/she resigns earlier from the Panel or is appointed a Minister or elected as Deputy Speaker.
According to the Constitution of India, a Speaker is vested with immense administrative and discretionary powers, some of which are enumerated below:
• The Speaker presides over the meetings in the House. In other words, the business in the House is conducted by the Speaker, ensuring discipline and decorum amongst its members. He/she guards the rights and privileges of the members of the two Houses, deciding who should speak at what time, the questions to be asked, the order of proceedings to be followed, among others.
• A Speaker uses his/her power to vote, in order to resolve a deadlock. That is, when the House initiates a voting procedure, he does not cast a vote in the first instance. However, when the two sides receive an equal number of votes, the Speaker’s vote is used to resolve the deadlock, making his position as impartial as in the English system of democracy.
• The Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.
• Once a Money Bill is transmitted from the Lower House to the Upper House, the Speaker is solely responsible for endorsing his or her certificate on the Bill. In other words, he/she is given the pivotal power to decide whether any Bill is a Money Bill. This decision is considered final, and all procedures henceforth must be carried along accordingly.
• The Speaker has under his or her jurisdiction, a number of Parliamentary Committees such as the Rules Committee, the Business Advisory Committee, and the General Purposes Committee. The Speaker nominates the various Chairmen of these Committees, as well as looks into the procedural hindrances of the workings of these Committees if any.
• Besides heading the Lok Sabha, the Speaker is also the ‘exofficio’ President of the Indian Parliamentary Group. He/she also acts in the capacity of Chairman of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India.
• As part of the Speaker’s administrative role, he or she is the head of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, maintaining absolute security surveillance in the Parliament.
• The Speaker holds office during the life of the House, and once the House is dissolved, the Speaker’s term of office ends. However, the Speaker can be re-elected to the post. The Speaker’s office may, however, terminate
earlier than the expiry of the House due to the following reasons:
When the Speaker ceases to be a Member of the House.
• When the Speaker resigns by writing to the Deputy Speaker.
• When the Speaker is removed from office by a resolution that is passed by a majority of all the members of the House. While such a process is underway, the Speaker cannot preside over the House but can take part in the proceedings of the House.
• When the Offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant, the duties of the Office of the Speaker are performed by such Member of the Lok Sabha as the President may appoint for the purpose. The person so appointed is known as the Speaker pro tem.
• Pro-tem is a Latin phrase that translates to ‘for the time being’ in English. Pro-tem speaker is the temporary speaker who presides over the first meeting of the lower House of Parliament after the general elections besides presiding over the sitting in which the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are elected if it is a newly constituted House.
• A pro-tem speaker is chosen with the agreement of the members of the Lok Sabha and legislative assembly. Usually, the senior-most member of the house is selected for the post, who then carries on the activities until the permanent speaker is chosen.
• The main duty of the pro-tem speaker is to administer the oath of office to new members of the house. He also enables the House to elect the new speaker.
• Once the new speaker is elected, the office of the pro-tem speaker ceases to exist. He also administers the floor test.
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
• The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 is an act of the Parliament of India, by the 42nd Act of 2010.
• It is a consolidating act whose scope is to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
• It is designed to correct shortfalls in the predecessor act of 1976. In terms of FCRA, 2010 “person” includes ‒ (i) an individual; (ii) a Hindu undivided family; (iii) an association; and (iv) a company registered under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
• Contributions made by a citizen of India living in another country (i.e., Non-Resident Indian), from his personal savings, through the normal banking channels, is not treated as foreign contribution.
• SVEEP or Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program, is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India. Since 2009, they have been working towards preparing India’s electors and equipping them with basic knowledge related to the electoral process.
• SVEEP’s primary goal is to build a truly participative democracy in India by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections. The programme is based on multiple general as well as targeted interventions that are designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.
• ‘Greater Participation for a Stronger Democracy’ is the motto for the SVEEP programme. In 2011, the government started with National Voters’ Day to be celebrated on 25th June every year as a part of the programme.
Data Localisation and Srikrishna Panel Report:
• Justice B N Srikrishna Committee disallowed cross-border transfer of all critical personal data and mandated that a live copy of data pertaining to Indian citizens be kept on servers in the country by all companies, at all times. A subset of that data, labeled critical personal data, must be stored and processed only in India.
• The RBI set a deadline for global companies to comply with the same. is allowed the cross-border transfer of all critical personal data and mandated that a live copy of data pertaining to Indian citizens be kept on servers in the country by all companies, at all times. As of now, much of cross-border data transfer is governed by individual bilateral “mutual legal assistance treaties” (MLATs) to obtain access, delaying investigations.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does not mandate all data to be localised, but rather restricts flow to countries with a strong data protection framework. In 2018 US President Donald Trump signed the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act) which established data sharing with certain countries.
• Goals set in the Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018, and the Guidelines for Government Departments for Contractual Terms related to Cloud Storage 2017, draft e-commerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localization.
Metropolitan Areas in India:
• Indian census considers an area as urban only if it fulfills the following criteria:
(a) The population of the settlement should be 5000 or more
(b) The density of at least 400 persons per sq.km
(c) At least 75% of the male workers engaged in non-agricultural occupations
• Nine Indian metros feature in the top 150 ranks of the Global Metro Monitor 2018 report released by Brookings.
• By the 74th Amendment Act, 1992, Article 243P(c) of the Constitution defines ‘metropolitan areas’ as those
having a “population of ten lakhs [a million] or more, comprised in one or more districts and consisting of two or more municipalities/panchayats/ other contiguous areas, specified by the governor through public notification to be a metropolitan area”.
Article 243 ZE provides for each metropolitan area, a Metropolitan Planning Committee has to be constituted.
The Metropolitan Planning Committee is to prepare a draft development plan for the Metropolitan area as a whole.
• The Legislature of a State may, by law, make provisions with respect to-
(a) the composition of the Metropolitan Planning Committees;
(b) the manner in which the seats in such Committees shall be filled; Provided that not less than two-thirds of the members of such Committee shall be elected by, and from amongst, the elected members of the Municipalities and Chairpersons of the Panchayats in the Metropolitan area in proportion to the ratio between the population of the Municipalities and of the Panchayats in that area;
(c) the representation, in such Committees of the Government of India and the Government of the State and of such organisations and institutions as may be deemed necessary for carrying out the functions assigned to such Committees;
(d) the functions relating to planning and coordination for the Metropolitan area which may be assigned to such Committees;
(e) the manner in which the Chairpersons of such Committees shall be chosen
‘One Nation, One Vote’
• The Law Commission of India (Chair: Justice B.S. Chauhan) released its draft report on Simultaneous Elections on August 30, 2018. The report examined legal and constitutional questions related to the conduct of simultaneous elections. Key draft recommendations include:
• Conduct of simultaneous elections: The Commission noted that simultaneous elections cannot be held within the existing framework of the Constitution. Simultaneous elections may be conducted to Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies through appropriate amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. The Commission also suggested that at least 50% of the states should ratify the constitutional amendments.
• The Commission noted that holding simultaneous elections will:
(i) save public money,
(ii) reduce the burden on the administrative setup and security forces,
(iii) ensure timely implementation of government policies, and
(iv) ensure that the administrative machinery is engaged in development activities rather than electioneering.
• The Commission noted that a no-confidence motion if passed may curtail the term of Lok Sabha/ state assembly. It recommended replacing the ‘no-confidence motion’ with a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’, through appropriate amendments. In a constructive vote of no confidence, the government may only be removed if there is confidence in an alternative government. It further suggested the option of limiting the number of such motions during the term of the House/ Assembly.
• If no party secures a majority to form the government, it may result in a hung House/ Assembly. In order to prevent this, the Commission recommended that the President/ Governor should give an opportunity to the largest party along with their pre or post-poll alliance to form the government. If the government can still not be formed, an all-party meeting may be called to resolve the stalemate. If this fails, mid-term elections may be held. The Commission recommended that appropriate amendments be made to provide that any new Lok Sabha/Assembly formed after mid-term elections, will be constituted only for the remainder of the previous term, and not the entire five years.
• NITI Aayog in their Report provided a definition of the term “Simultaneous Elections”, as ideally, simultaneous elections should imply that elections to all the three tiers of constitutional institutions take place in a synchronized and coordinated fashion. What this effectively means is that a voter casts his vote for electing members for all tiers of the Government on a single day.
• The concept of simultaneous elections is in-fact not new to the country. Post-adoption of the Constitution, elections to Lok Sabha and all State Legislative Assemblies were held simultaneously over the period 1951
till 1967 when the cycle of synchronized elections got disrupted.
• Article 83(2) of the Constitution provides for a normal term of five years for the House of People (Lok Sabha). Article 172 (1) provides for similar tenure for the State Legislative Assembly from the date of its first sitting.
• Both Lok Sabha and State Assemblies do not have a fixed term and can be dissolved earlier than their normal terms. Various provisions in the Constitution and relevant directions laid down by the Supreme Court of India drive the stipulations (grounds leading to such dissolution, who has the power to effect such dissolution etc.) that may cause an early dissolution of legislatures.
• Tenure of the House cannot be extended beyond 5 years except in emergency situations.
• Election Commission of India is empowered to notify elections to both Lok Sabha and State Leg. six months prior to the end of the normal terms of the Houses