The Lok Sabha witnessed a fiery No Confidence Motion yesterday, with a range of parties fielding their best speakers to sound the 2019 poll bugle. All throughout, one witnessed words and phrases like “yielding”, “not allowed as per rules”, “unparliamentary”, “expunged”, “will not go into record” etc. For the uninitiated, the phrases above form part of Parliamentary Rules vocabulary. The Lok Sabha follows the fifteenth edition of Rules of Procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha, while the Rajya Sabha follows the ninth edition of Rules of Procedure and conduct of business in Council of States. The said Rules govern the happenings in the Parliament, which includes speeches, questions, replies etc, all of which are recorded. But what is a record and why is it important? Let’s find out!

Rule 383 of the Lok Sabha Rules states that the Secretary General will have the custody of the records and the records cannot go out of Parliament without permission of the Speaker. The Record is a written and corrected record of the proceedings before the House. The Speaker under Rule 380 has the power to expunge certain portions if they are found to be defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified.

The Government through Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has claimed that Congress President Rahul Gandhi violated Rule 353 when he claimed that the Defence Minister had misled the Lok Sabha. In reply, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan stated that she will expunge whatever is required and nothing irrelevant will go into the record. Rahul Gandhi stated that he was not yielding, which meant that Nirmala Sitharaman could get a chance to reply, only after Rahul had finished his speech.

Proceedings in Parliament have got more emotional by the day, even as its sittings have decreased. The grandstanding before TV cameras, knowing that the whole country is watching does indeed give a Big Boss like moment to some of our Parliamentarians. In the age of Live TV and Social Media, no one is going to read the official record of the Parliament. Meant to be kept for history, the record itself has become a historical document that is losing its purpose. A sovereign nation like France has already clarified on the Rafale deal, without waiting to see if the Speaker expunged the remarks or not. To be quite candid, the Congress may not even protest if the Speaker expunges many parts from Rahul’s speech. The record is redundant.

 

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