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Expunction powers in Parliament


Expunction powers in Parliament

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Expunction of Remarks:

  • Expunction of remarks refers to the removal of certain words, phrases, or expressions from the official parliamentary records if they are deemed defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified.
  • It is a standard procedure in parliamentary practice to maintain decorum and uphold the dignity of proceedings.

Authority of Presiding Officers:

  • The power to expunge remarks lies with the presiding officers: the Chairman in the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker in the Lok Sabha.
  • This authority is derived from specific rules: Rule 261 for the Rajya Sabha and Rules 380 and 381 for the Lok Sabha.

Criteria for Expunction:

  • Remarks are expunged if they are considered defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or otherwise derogatory to maintain the integrity of parliamentary proceedings.
  • The Lok Sabha Secretariat maintains a list of 'unparliamentary' words and phrases to guide the presiding officers.


  • Inconsistency: Recent actions have led to debates over consistency and fairness in applying expunction rules across different members and parties. The rules might be biassed towards ruling party members.
  • Impact and Challenges in the Digital Age: In the digital era, despite expunction, remarks may still be accessible through live telecasts, social media sharing, and screenshots, raising questions about the efficacy of expunction in maintaining parliamentary decorum.
  • Political and Public Reactions: Expunction decisions often spark political controversies, as seen in debates over selective expunction and its perceived impact on freedom of speech versus parliamentary discipline.
  • Subjectivity and Interpretation: The determination of what constitutes "defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified" language is often subjective and can vary between presiding officers.
  • Impact on Parliamentary Debate: Overly strict application of expunction rules could stifle robust debate and limit the ability of MPs to express dissenting views or hold the government accountable effectively.

Way ahead:

  • Equity in application: There is a need for consistent application of expunction rules to ensure fairness and equality among MPs.
  • Rules revision: Considering technological advancements, parliamentary rules may need revision to address challenges posed by digital dissemination of expunged remarks.
  • Ensuring Impartiality of Parliamentary Speakers: Strengthening the independence and impartiality of parliamentary Speakers through transparent selection processes and clear guidelines on their role or appointing speakers through apologetic background can mitigate bias. The Canadian House of Commons appoints Speakers from different political backgrounds to ensure neutrality and fairness in debates.
  • Protecting Freedom of Speech and Assembly: Safeguarding the rights of opposition members to freely express their views without fear of intimidation or harassment is crucial.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Ensure transparency and accountability by making expunction decisions subject to scrutiny and review, possibly through oversight mechanisms involving parliamentary committees.
  • Public Awareness and Education: Educate MPs and the public about the implications of unparliamentary language and the consequences of its use in parliamentary debates.


  • Balancing freedom of speech with maintaining parliamentary decorum through expunction remains a debatable issue, requiring continuous adaptation to evolving digital landscapes and judicial interpretations.

For details on freedom of Speech in Parliament refer:





Q) Highlight the authority of presiding officers in expunging remarks and analyze the challenges associated with its application in the digital age. Suggest measures to ensure fairness, transparency, and uphold parliamentary decorum while safeguarding freedom of speech. (250 words)