New Delhi, May 19 :
A decision on the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha being recognised as Leader of Opposition will be taken by the new Speaker and may require “legal interpretation”, parliament officials said here.
The Congress has won 44 seats in the Lok Sabha, which is less than a tenth of the total strength of 545 of the lower house. The party won the second highest seats in the Lok Sabha behind the Bharatiya Janata Party, which won 282.
The officials said there are two laws dealing with the matter and a book “Directions by the speaker of the Lok Sabha” also deals with the issue.
The Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognized Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998, defines a “recoginsed party” in the Lok Sabha as “every party which has a strength of not less than 55 members in the house”, said an official, who did not want to be identified.
The other law dealing with the issue was the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, which terms Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha as the member “who is for the timebeing the leader in that house of the party in opposition to the government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Speaker”.
The official said there were varied views on how the issue of Leader of Opposition in the new house should be decided, noting the person given this status was eligible for facilities equivalent to those of a cabinet minister.
“One view is that the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act alone should be followed and the act of 1998 was not applicable. However, there is also an opinion that a more holistic view should be taken,” the official said.
He said the final decision will be taken by the new speaker.
“A legal interpretation of the provisions may be required and the speaker may decide to seek views of the law ministry or the attorney general,” the official said.
He said that book “Directions by the speaker of the Lok Sabha” states that the speaker may recognize an association of members as parliamentary party which “shall have at least a strength equal to the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the house, that is one-tenth of the total number of members in the house”.
The total strength of the Lok Sabha is 545, including two nominated members.