Lawmakers Suspended Around The World – An Observation

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Ashes Roy, EMBA 2015-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.

On Monday, 3rd August 2015, during the Monsoon session of the 16th Lok sabha, the speaker Ms. Sumitra Mahajan took the historic decision of suspending 25 members of the Indian National Congress party, for five consecutive days or sittings for disrupting the proceedings of the Parliament. While the premises are debatable considering the Parliament has been the epicenter of many such protests before, it’s interesting to take a look at the protests occurring in the parliaments around the world and the members suspended as the consequence.

In the United Kingdom, the MPs can be suspended if they are found to be speaking against the speaker in a disorderly manner, at the house of Commons as well as the house of Lords. The suspension is officially voted by other members and the accused cannot participate in any type of regulation forming votes or discussions during the suspended period. The earliest suspension order goes back to 1742. Interestingly the next suspension occurred 350 years later, in 2010 when couple of MPs were suspended on the charges of offering cash to change the laws.

In the United States of America, the suspension of a member from the Congress is termed as one of the most severe punishments, the lesser punishment being ‘Censure’ which does not result in the removal of the member. Voting to expel needs two third votes from the members. Till date only 20 members have been officially expelled from Congress out of which 19 were accused of being supporters of the confederacy. In the US, censure is used most commonly.

In Australia, a study by Mr. Rob Lundie suggests that during the period of 1903-2013, out of 1000+ members serving in this period, 27.4% have been disciplined. The suspension can be decided on the basis of the allegation which can be of grave disorder or gross disorder. The most common and equally interesting method of suspension is called sin-bin where the accused member is ordered to go out of the chambers for one hour. Mr. Christopher Pyne holds the dubious record of being disciplined for the most number of times i.e. 45.

In early 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine became a free-for-all fighting arena, when the lawmakers from both separatists and nationalists parties exchanged blows. Surprisingly none of the members were barred from the Parliament. It’s very interesting to observe that due to a number of international incidents such as MH17 accident as well as the fight with the rebels, Ukraine has been under constant political turbulence.
Coming back to the incident that happened on 3rd Aug 2015, it remains to be seen what result comes out of this mass suspension of members. Whether its fruitful or futile, the only thing that concern the citizens of this country is the wastage of the exchequers’ hard earned tax money. That remains as the food for thought.

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