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Time for introspection

Time for introspection
Highlights

The ruling of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad reinstating the suspended Congress MLAs, Komati Reddy Venkat Reddy and Sampath Kumar, as people\'s representatives once again should come as an eye-opener to the ruling party in Telangana.

The ruling of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad reinstating the suspended Congress MLAs, Komati Reddy Venkat Reddy and Sampath Kumar, as people's representatives once again should come as an eye-opener to the ruling party in Telangana.

Disagreeing with the contention of the government, the High Court clarified that the members could have been suspended for a while if they were found guilty of breach of the Conduct Rules. But, to throw them out of the Assembly itself was uncalled for, the High Court felt.

This is not the first time that such punishments were inflicted on the 'errant members' by the legislatures in the country. However, of late, the intolerance of the ruling parties towards criticism is driving them to adopt harsher methods in dealing with the Opposition. The State government will have an option, of course, of approaching a division bench if it feels like.

Whether it does so is to be seen. From the beginning, the issue sounded more like an ego issue rather than of rules and courtesies to be followed in the legislatures. While all agree that the standard of the discourse and debate has fallen in the Assemblies and the Parliament, even the Treasury benches are not covering themselves with glory by their behaviour. These are, after all, times when the ruling parties get the discussion blocked either by their own members or with the help of their allies to avoid unpleasant

questions being raised. In a democratic system, debate, discussion and argument are all of equal importance and there should be no effort to stifle the discordant voices. The more the ruling parties allow such Opposition, the better for their image. People would come to know the truth. In the absence of such healthy contests, the clouds of suspicion harm the interests of the ruling party more than any. Language and expressions used in the Assemblies must conform to a number of rules.

Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language. Even in Western legislative houses, objection has been taken both to individual words and to sentences and constructions – in the case of the former, to insulting, coarse, or abusive language (particularly as applied to other Members); and of the latter, to charges of lying or being drunk and misrepresentation of the words of another.

Among the words to which Speakers have objected over the years have been blackguard, coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon and traitor. The context in which a word is used is, of course, very important. The Speaker will direct a Member who has used an unparliamentary word or phrase to withdraw it.

Members sometimes use considerable ingenuity to circumvent these rules (as when, for instance, Winston Churchill substituted the phrase "terminological inexactitude" for "lie") but they must be careful to obey the Speaker's directions, as a Member who refuses to retract an offending expression may be named or required to withdraw from House.

Such being the hoary tradition, the present-day happenstances often shock us with the lowly insinuations and intemperate allegations of members. Anyway, this should be an introspection time for all!

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