Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha: Criterion

The Leader of Opposition is the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha. The modalities to formally recognise the leader of the opposition is outlined under Mavalankar’s rule.

Mavalankar’s Rule

G V Mavalankar was the first Speaker of Lok Sabha. The rules formulated by him to recognize the leader of opposition in the house have widely come to be known as Mavalankar’s rule.

Under Mavalankar’s rule, the single largest opposition party must have a strength of at least 10 per cent of the total strength of the House in order to designate its leader as the Leader of Opposition.

Statutory Recognition

The statutory recognition was accorded to the post of leader of opposition through the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.

The act defines the leader of opposition of each house as the leader in that House of the party in opposition to the government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised, as such, by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Bone of Contention

Since no party could qualify the criterion as set under the Mavalankar’s rule in 16th Lok Sabha, there was no recognized leader of the opposition. Even a petition was filed in the Supreme Court to scrap the Mavalankar’s rule since it was non-statutory and demanded recognition based on the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal stating Mavalankar’s rule was not a statutory provision and further stated that the Speaker’s statement or procedure evolved to run the House was outside the purview of judicial review.

Coincidently even in 17th Lok Sabha, there is no party which can qualify for the post of leader of opposition based on the numerical strength as provided under the Mavalankar’s rule.

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