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‘Withdrawal of member’: Rule 255 explained

‘Please leave the chamber. Rule 255 has been invoked against you,’ Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari told Trinamool MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy on Monday. What is this Rule?

Written by Sushant Singh |
May 4, 2016 1:08:21 am
Roy and Ansari in Rajya Sabha on Monday. (TV grab, PTI) Roy and Ansari in Rajya Sabha on Monday. (TV grab, PTI)

Under Rule 255 (‘Withdrawal of member’) of the General Rules of Procedure of the Rajya Sabha, “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.”

The decision to ask an MP to leave is taken by the Chairman. It is a lesser punishment than under Rule 256, which provides for ‘Suspension of Member’.

Under Rule 256, “the Chairman may, if he deems it necessary, name a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.

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“If a member is so named… he shall forthwith put the question on a motion being made… that the member (naming him) be suspended from the service of the Council for a period not exceeding the remainder of the Session.”

Rule 256 (3) lays down that “a member suspended under this rule shall forthwith quit the precincts of the Council.” However, “the Council may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.”

Similar rules for the withdrawal (Rule 373) and suspension (Rule 374) are in place for Lok Sabha as well. Under Rule 374A, however, there is an additional provision for “automatic suspension” of an errant member: “Notwithstanding anything contained in Rules 373 and 374, 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.”

As Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Vice-President Ansari had attempted several steps to bring order to the House. In 2013, he mooted a number of radical solutions to maintain decorum, which included naming and shaming MPs in the Rajya Sabha bulletin for stepping outside House rules. Those named were to include members who came into the Well, or indulged in other grossly disorderly behaviour.

Ansari had also suggested that the telecast of proceedings be deferred to prevent visuals of disorder from being made public. His suggestions were sent to the Rules Committee of the Rajya Sabha for deliberation, but no changes were made in the General Rules of Procedure.

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