The word Parliament reminds us of sober faced and khaadi clad leaders seated in power. But, we all know more than that. We have had people throwing potted plants at each other in the parliament. Therefore, we know how unparliamentary the parliament can get. Unparliamentary language and conduct isn’t novel to us.
Still, can a member call someone else a “Bag of shit” in front of the speaker and get away with it? The answer is no.“ Bag of shit” qualifies as unparliamentary language in India. You cannot say that in the parliament.
This abuse of language has led to the ban of a few phrases and words. As a result, the race of “Unparliamentary Language” came to be.
Who decides what is unparliamentary language?
The speaker of the house looks after a lot of things. That includes, the keeping of the house’s decorum. So, when that is broken with language, the speaker bans it.
Is this curtailing freedom of speech or the spirit of democracy?
The course taken in this regard differs from country to country. However, there is the concept of “Parliamentary Immunity” granted. This protects the members from prosecution. Anything said within the house, is covered by it. Belgium follows this method. But, it comes with the condition that this immunity can only be stretched to an extent. Anything beyond it, would be abuse. Furthermore, depending on the legislature is sue-able.
How is the Indian Parliament faring in this regard?
Quoted directly from the handbook of Indian Parliament,
“Words containing insinuations and offensive and unparliamentary expressions should be avoided. When the Chair holds that a particular word or expression is unparliamentary, it should be immediately withdrawn without any attempt to raise any debate over it.”
But, the devil is in detail. So we wanted to know what these “unparliamentary expressions” were. Most of these phrases are so choice and creative, they make for a great read by themselves.
- Haathi Ka Baccha – Elephant’s baby. (Or baby Elephant. We are sticking to “Baby elephant”)
- Aap Apne vivek ka istemaal kare – Use your wisdom.
- Sanvidhaan ko phenk do – Throw away the Constitution ( Yeah, this one is asking to get banned)
- Abe Chup – Shut up. ( Who has ever shut up after being told to after 8th grade?)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In 2012, an entire book of unparliamentary language was published by the Indian Parliament.
What’s happening around the world?
Every country that has a parliament, has an offering to this list :
Here are few that we couldn’t resist but repeat:
- New Zealand – Energy of a tired snail returning home from a funeral
- Canada – Pompous Ass.
- Norway – Highway Bandit
- United Kingdom – Half the cabinet are asses.
And the list goes on and on. So, who said parliamentary proceeding was boring again? It’s bloody entertaining. Oops, we said bloody.
Fun fact : Churchill is man who is spoken of with respect. Whether stemming out of hate or love or reverence. However, he sly-ed his way out of this. It so happens that, calling someone a “liar” would come under unparliamentary language. So, Churchill used the term “terminological Inexactitude”. It meant the same thing. Everyone knew that but no one could do anything about it.
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