ADMITTING THAT he saw merit in the Opposition’s argument that democracy will be weakened if the amended rules of procedure and conduct of business that give primacy to confidence motion over no-confidence motion are implemented, Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sitasaran Sharma has put them in abeyance.
“I have put the amended rules in abeyance because they seem to nullify the no-confidence motion brought by the Opposition by insisting that the confidence motion will take precedence over it,” Sharma told The Indian Express on Thursday, a day after the budget session of the MP Assembly was cut short by a week.
The rules were amended by an 11-member permanent committee that also has members other than the ruling party. The amended rules were tabled on March 8 and suggestions invited within a week. When no suggestions were received during the period, the new rules were notified on March 15.
The Speaker said the change was felt necessary because the existing rules, unlike the no-confidence motion, have no provision for a confidence motion though it is commonly moved. He said Bihar and Rajasthan assemblies have similar rules. “I am not sure if objections have been raised in Bihar and Rajasthan but our rules drew a lot from them,” Sharma said. He said that he gave a serious thought to objections raised by senior Congress leaders and realised that the Opposition MLAs’ rights will be curtailed by the amendment related to confidence motion.
He, however, said the objections related to questions not to be asked by members about communal riots, sensitive incidents and confidential information that have a bearing on the Constitution stemmed from confusion. “The rules putting some restrictions on questions asked by members always existed. They have only been tightened to plug holes. But there has been some misinterpretation. The rules have been put in abeyance to remove this perception,” said the Speaker against whom the Opposition had moved a no-confidence motion on Wednesday accusing him of bias in favour of the ruling party.
However, before the motion could be considered the House was adjourned sine die. Congress MLA from Lahar Govind Singh said the changes were in violation of the spirit of the Constitution that gave members right to move the no-confidence motion against the government for its failures, corruption and inefficiency. “The amendment would have entailed discussion on confidence motion first after which no-confidence motion would have been rendered meaningless,” he said.
PCC chief Arun Yadav said the restrictions on members not to ask questions about matters pending before various committees of the assembly are undemocratic and a blow to constitutional democracy. “Democracy will turn into autocracy and there will be no control on government.”
According to Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, there will always be a cloud of uncertainty on whether the no-confidence motion brought by the Opposition will be permitted or denied permission if the new rules are implemented.