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Trust Vote: What will the Speaker do in case of a tie?

July 21, 2008 17:49 IST

With a cliffhanger on the cards, whom does the Speaker vote for in the event of a tie during the trust vote sought by the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government?

Eminent Constitutional lawyer Fali S Nariman says ideally status quo should guide the Speaker and the constitutional authority should side with the government.

"Generally, the convention is to vote for the government," Nariman said. Endorsing Nariman's view, former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma said the Presiding Officer ideally votes with the government in case of a tie.

                                                          Also Read: An Alliance in Crisis

When asked what the Speaker should do in case there is a tie after the trust vote, Sangma said, "Normally, the Speaker votes to save the government. This is the convention internationally. But this is not binding on the Speaker."

A handbook on parliamentary procedures that seeks to educate Members of Parliament on parliamentary procedures and conventions says "He (Speaker) almost always votes in such a way as to maintain the status quo or to postpone the settlement of the question."

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The idea of maintaining status quo is that the Speaker's vote should not decide the motion but give the House further opportunity to debate. It remains to be seen whether or not Speaker Somnath Chatterjee goes by convention, which is not binding, in siding with the government if he is called upon to exercise his casting vote.

If Chatterjee votes as a Communist Party of India � Marxist member against the Congress-led government in case of a tie, then the 79-year-old veteran will probably become the first Speaker to bring down a national government anywhere in the world.

                                                  Also Read: Speaker episode: Tip of CPI-M iceberg

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