A 50-page booklet containing a compilation of unparliamentary words released by the Lok Sabha Secretariat has courted controversy and outrage. This list has been released ahead of the monsoon session starting July 18.
Opposition parties have accused the Narendra Modi government of throttling democracy through this “gag order” to avoid the criticism of the ruling party. Majority of the words that are included in that list are believed to be used against the Modi government.
Reportedly, the gag order is misinterpreted as a ban on the use of those unparliamentary words. However, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla has made it clear that there is no ban on the use of unparliamentary words. The words may not appear unparliamentary unless read in conjunction with the other expressions used – essentially indicating that the context matters.
Om Birla stated that the decision to expunge the words is the prerogative of the Chair. He also added that it is a tradition followed since 1954.
“If the Speaker is of opinion that words have been used in the debate which are defamatory or indecent or unparliamentary or undignified, the Speaker may, while exercising discretion order that such words be expunged from the proceedings of the House,” says Rule 380 (“Expunction”) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.