An incensed Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, on Thursday afternoon led a walk-out from the House and alleged that microphones of Opposition members had been switched off to censor their comments against the government.
“When we try to put forth issues before the House, the mic turns off… This shows that there is little time to know our view… I don’t wish to talk much about it… there could be mechanical defect,” Kharge told reporters.
However, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy denied that microphones were being switched off in the House, and said that the charge was baseless.
The Lok Sabha chamber is equipped with a computer-controlled integrated system comprising three sub-systems for microphone management, simultaneous interpretation and automatic vote recording. It was introduced in the 10th Lok Sabha.
Each member has a goose-neck microphone and a push-button set fixed at his or her desk or railing. The mike has an LED, which lights up whenever the mike is activated. The push-button set consists of a mic request system, synchronised with the seat numbers allotted to members. This is the precise reason why Rules of Business stress that each member should occupy the seat allotted to him whenever he wishes to speak.
A member may try catching the eye of the Speaker by raising his hand and pressing the mic/request button. However, the mike doesn’t get activated then. Instead, it is activated from the control room only when the Speaker permits the member to speak. That’s when the LED glows red and the member can be heard.
Thus, when the mic of a member fails to get activated or is deactivated while he is speaking, it means he is speaking without the permission of the chair. This implies the time meant for this member is up. Else, the chair has declined or ignored his request to have his say.