What is Protem Speaker?

Protem Speaker definition: There are several instances when the Supreme Court had to issue orders directing a Protem Speaker to be appointedin a state legislative assembly to carry out specific functions

what is the meaning of protem speaker, how is the speaker electedWho is a Protem Speaker? By conventional practice, the senior most MLA is selected as a Protem Speaker.

Protem Speaker definition: What is the meaning of Protem Speaker? There are several instances when the Supreme Court had to issue orders directing a Protem Speaker to be appointed in a state legislative assembly to carry out specific functions. This is particularly relevant when a Protem Speaker is appointed for administering a floor test. Also, in such instances, the scope of the Protem Speaker’s functions is defined in the court’s order.

Who is a Protem Speaker?

By conventional practice, the senior most MLA is selected as a Protem Speaker. However, once a new Speaker is elected, the Protem Speaker ceases to function in the same capacity.

Scope of Protem Speaker’s powers:

Following a court direction, a Protem Speaker can be selected to do the following:

  • Carry out such or most functions of a Speaker or those specified as per court’s order.
  • Supervise the activities of the House till the completion of the court’s order is fulfilled.
  • Not go beyond the defined scope of activity given in the court order.

Notably, there are various landmark judgements of the Supreme Court that elaborate on the Speaker’s functions such as in Rabam Nebia and Bamang Felix vs Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly (2018) 8 SCC 1.

Chapter III of the Constitution pertains to state legislature and several aspects related to the state legislative assembly. However, it is important to also take note of Article 180 (2). This provides that when the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are both absent, and when their absence is not due to any vacancy, it is for the legislative assembly, and not the Governor, to determine who the next Speaker should be. Over the years, it appears that the Governor’s “discretion” in such cases has been considerably limited.

The Justice Sarkaria Commission examined Article 163 (1) of the Constitution and the Governor’s discretion in two parts, firstly, when required to exercise discretion by the Constitution and secondly, when required to exercise discretion under the Constitution. Having thoroughly studied the Constitutional intent and provisions, the Commission held that the aforementioned Article does not give the Governor general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of the Council of Ministers.

It may be noted that this view of the Justice Sarkaria Commission has been added to the view of the Supreme Court in 29 M.P. Special Police Establishment vs State of Madhya Pradesh (2004) 8 SCC 788.

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