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Muting of mics in Parliament


Muting of mics in Parliament

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  • Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha claimed that his mic was muted during the debate.
  • The Lok Sabha Speaker said on Monday (July 1) that the presiding officers do not have the switch or remote control to mute the mics of members of Parliament (MPs).

Administration of Microphones in Parliament:

  • Each MP in the Lok Sabha is provided with an individual microphone and a switch set at their desk.
  • Microphones are controlled centrally from a control room.
  • MPs press a grey switch to request to speak. The microphone is activated only when the Speaker permits them to speak, indicated by a red LED ring and top LED on the microphone.
  • In the Zero Hour, a three-minute time limit is given to a member and when the three minutes are over, the microphone gets switched off automatically.
  • In cases of debates on bills etc, time is allowed for each of the parties. The Chair goes by that time, and at its discretion, grants one or two minutes for a member to complete.
  • In the case of Special Mentions, MPs have a limit of reading 250 words. The moment it is read by the member, the mic is switched off by the staff in the chamber.

Previous Allegations:

  • Since September 2022, the current LOP has been vocal about the perceived suppression of Opposition voices in Parliament, even accusing the Speaker of turning off microphones.
  • In March 2023, Previous LOP wrote to the Speaker alleging his microphone was muted for three days, attributing it to government-sponsored disruption.
  • During the passage of farm Bills in September 2020, there were disruptions in Rajya Sabha TV's audio feed due to damage to microphones, reportedly caused by protesting MPs.
  • In July 2023, a member from the opposition party claimed his mic was turned off during a session, which he termed an insult and a breach of privilege.

Issue of suppressing the voices of opposition in parliament:

  • Restrictive Parliamentary Rules and Procedures:
    • In some parliamentary systems, majority parties may use their influence to set strict time limits on debates or limit the number of opposition members allowed to speak on a particular issue. For instance, during the debate on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019, opposition members argued that they were not given adequate time to voice their concerns.
  • Limitations on Parliamentary Committees:
    • Majority parties might dominate committees, which play a crucial role in scrutinising legislation. They can schedule meetings at inconvenient times or exclude opposition members from key committees.
  • Undermining Opposition Bills and Motions:
    • Majority parties might use their numbers to consistently vote down opposition bills or motions without thorough debate or consideration, effectively preventing them from reaching the floor for a vote.
  • Manipulation of Speaker's Authority:
    • The speaker of parliament, who ideally should be neutral, may sometimes be influenced by the ruling party to restrict opposition contributions or to favor government perspectives during debates.
  • Intimidation and Harassment:
    • In extreme cases, opposition members may face intimidation tactics, threats, or even physical harassment inside or outside parliament, which can deter them from speaking freely or participating actively in debates.

Way Ahead

Enhancing Parliamentary Transparency and Accountability:

  • Implementing mechanisms to enhance transparency in parliamentary proceedings, such as live streaming of debates and committee meetings, can mitigate concerns of procedural manipulation. Similar steps can be taken in case of parliamentary committee meetings.
  • According to the UK Parliament's data, over 90% of sessions are broadcasted live, promoting transparency and public engagement.

Strengthening Parliamentary Committees:

  • Ensuring balanced representation in parliamentary committees and empowering them to conduct thorough scrutiny of legislation can enhance democratic oversight. Example: The German Bundestag allocates committee seats proportionally, ensuring all parties have a voice in legislative scrutiny.

Promoting Cross-Party Dialogue and Consensus-Building:

  • Encouraging structured forums for cross-party dialogue and negotiation can reduce adversarial politics and facilitate consensus on key issues. In Sweden, the Committee on EU Affairs involves cross-party consultations to build consensus on European policies.

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.

Constitutional Perspective on free speech in parliament :

Freedom of Speech in Parliament:

    • The freedom of speech and expression guaranteed to a citizen under Article 19(2) is different from the freedom of speech and expression provided to a member of the parliament. 
    • Article 105 of the Constitution defines Powers, privileges, etc., of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees thereof. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and to the rules and standing orders regulating the procedure of Parliament, there shall be freedom of speech in Parliament.
    • Breach of privilege is a serious matter, but rules regarding what constitutes a breach and its punishment are not clearly codified.


    • Article 118(1) empowers each House of Parliament to make its own rules of procedure. These rules enable the smooth functioning of the House, including the conduct of business, the manner of voting, the procedure for debate, and other related matters.
    • Freedom of speech should be in accordance with the constitutional provisions and subject to rules and procedures of the parliament, as stated under Article 118 of the Constitution.
    • Under Article 121 of the Constitution, the members of the parliament are restricted from discussing the conduct of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court.


  • The administration and control of microphones in Parliament are governed by specific procedures, but allegations of their misuse or manipulation have led to significant controversy, reflecting broader concerns about parliamentary democracy and the rights of elected representatives to voice concerns freely. The constitutional framework provides for privileges to uphold parliamentary integrity, although the interpretation and enforcement of these privileges remain contentious and subject to political debate.





Q) Which of the following statements about freedom of speech and expression in the Indian Parliament is NOT correct?

A) Article 105 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to members of Parliament, subject to constitutional provisions and parliamentary rules.

B) Breach of privilege in Parliament is clearly defined in the Constitution with specific punishments outlined for offenders.

C) Article 118(1) empowers each House of Parliament to formulate its own rules regarding procedure, conduct of business, and debate.

D) Article 121 of the Constitution prohibits members of Parliament from discussing the conduct of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.


B) Breach of privilege in Parliament is clearly defined in the Constitution with specific punishments outlined for offenders.


Article 105 of the Constitution indeed guarantees freedom of speech and expression to members of Parliament, but the rules regarding breach of privilege and its punishments are not explicitly codified in the Constitution. Article 118(1) allows each House of Parliament to create its own rules of procedure, which includes regulating the conduct of members and parliamentary proceedings. Article 121 restricts members of Parliament from discussing the conduct of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts to maintain judicial independence.

Option B is incorrect as breach of privilege rules and punishments are not clearly codified in the Constitution.