Rajya Sabha marshal uniform row: Issue should have been addressed without making it a public controversy, says constitutional expert

  • The marshals were seen in restyled uniforms in which they were wearing military-style outfits with caps instead of traditional Indian signatures such as turbans.

  • Former Chief of Army Staff General VP Malik also expressed his displeasure with the new uniform of the Rajya Sabha marshals.

  • The debate over the uniform of the Rajya Sabha marshals erupted on Monday when Congress MP Jairam Ramesh objected to it in the Upper House.

Soon after a controversy broke out over the new uniforms of Rajya Sabha marshals, Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu ordered his Secretariat to revisit the dress code as many objected to its similarity with those of senior army officials.

“If anyone had any complaint about the uniform, they could bring it to the notice of the chairman without making it a public controversy or politicising it,” said constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap.

The debate over the uniform of the Rajya Sabha marshals erupted on Monday when Congress MP Jairam Ramesh objected to it in the Upper House.

The marshals were seen in restyled uniforms in which they were wearing military-style outfits with caps instead of traditional Indian signatures such as turbans.

As per an India Today report, Ramesh equated the new uniform of marshals with that of "imposing martial law" in the House to which the vice-president took umbrage.

However, on Tuesday the chairman of the Rajya Sabha decided to direct his Secretariat to revisit the uniform after the issue also caused a debate in social media too.

Former Chief of Army Staff General VP Malik also expressed his displeasure with the new uniform of the Rajya Sabha marshals.

While speaking to Firstpost, Kashyap said that the Indian Constitution empowers the Rajya Sabha chairman to decide on the administrative matters of the Secretariat.

Adding that since there is no guideline about the style of uniform to be used by marshals he said that it solely depends on the discretion of the chairman what kind of dress they would wear in duty hours.

“Even if the decision to change the style of uniform was not taken at the level of the chairman, there was ample opportunity to flag this issue without making it a subject of public discussion,” Kashyap said.

Significantly, as per the concerned constitutional provisions, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat functions under the control and direction of the chairman. Admission to various galleries including the press gallery is regulated under the direction of the chairman. The chairman is responsible for the protection of the rights of members and for ensuring that all reasonable amenities are provided to them.

SK Sharma, former Lok Sabha secretary told Firstpost that the marshals are the employees of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and hence within the direct purview of the chairman.

“The marshals are the security personnel of the Rajya Sabha. But no agency other than the chairman can decide anything about their jobs,” Sharma said.

He also added that the undisputed authority of the head of the House over its administration was decided by the legendary freedom fighter Vithalbhai J Patel, the first Speaker of the Central Assembly in 1928.

“He had a spat with a top-level police official during that time who wanted to deploy security officials within the precincts of the Central Assembly. Patel objected to it and later on ensured that the authority of the security provision of the Upper House remains with the chairman,” Sharma said.

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Updated Date: Nov 20, 2019 15:09:37 IST