Chapter 26: PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGES
Clauses (1)-(2) of Arts. 105 and 194- of our
Constitution deal with two matters, viz., Freedom of speech and right of
As regard privileges relating to other matters, the position, as It stands
after the 44th Amendment, 1978, Is as follows - The privileges of members
of our Parliament were to be the same as those of members of the House of
Commons (as they existed at the commencement of the Constitution), until
our Parliament itself takes up legislation relating to privileges in whole or in
In other words, if Parliament enacts any provision relating to any
particular privilege at any time, the English precedents will to that extent be
superseded in Its application to our Parliament.
No such legislation having
been made by our Parliament, the privileges were the same as in the House of the Commons, subject to such exceptions as necessarily follow from the
difference in the constitutional set-up in India Reference to House of Commons was ommited in 1978.
In an earlier case, the Supreme Court held that if there was any
conflict between the existing privileges of Parliament and the fundamental
rights of a citizen, the former shall prevail
For, the provisions in Arts. 105(3)
and 194(3) of the Constitution, which confer upon the Houses of our
Legislatures the same British privileges as those of the House of Commons,
are independent provisions and are not to be construed as subject to Part III
of the Constitution, guaranteeing the Fundamental Rights.
For instance, if
the House of a Legislature expunges a portion of its debates from its
proceedings, or otherwise prohibits its publication, anybody who publishes
such prohibited debate will be guilty of contempt of Parliament and
punishable by the House and the Fundamental Right of freedom of
expression [Art. 19(1)(a)1 will be no defence.
But for a later case the
Supreme Court has held that though the existing privileges would not be
fettered by Art, 19(1)(a), they must be read subject to Arts. 20-22 and 32.
To exclude strangers from the galleries at any time. Under the
Rules of Procedure, the Speaker and the Chairman have the right to order
the 'withdrawal of strangers from any part of the House'.
To regulate its internal affairs. Each House of Parliament has the
right to control and regulate its proceedings and also to decide any matter
arising within its walls, without Interference from the Courts.
What is said or
done within the walls of Parliament cannot be inquired into in a Court of
A penalty of Rs. 500 per day may be imposed upon a person who sits
4votes in either House of Parliament knowing that he is not qualified for membership thereof
To punish members and outsiders for breach of its privileges. Each
House can punish for contempt or breach of its privileges, and the
punishment may take the form of admonition, reprimand and imprisonment.
Thus, in the famous Blitz case, the Editor of the newspaper was called to the
Bar of the House of the People and reprimanded for having published an
article derogatory to the dignity of a member in his capacity as member of
In 1990, Shri KK. Tewari, a former Minister was reprimanded by
the Rajya Sabha. What constitutes breach of privileges or contempt of
Parliament has been fairly settled by a number of precedents in England and
Any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament In the
performance or its functions or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer
of such House In the discharge or his duty or which has a tendency, directly or
indirectly to produce such results as may be treated as a contempt, even though
there is no precedent of the offence
These are special
rights, privileges or immunity's enjoyed by the MP’s that
and effectiveness of their actions. Without a privilege
the house can’t
maintain is dignity, neither honor nor protect its members
obstructions in their parliamentary duties.
They extend to any member who takes
part in parliamentary proceeding [attorney general or
union ministers] even if
they aren’t members.
However they don’t
extend to the president even though he is a part of the
That belong to both houses are:
to publish records, reports, debates and prohibit others
from doing the same.
However by 44th amendment others can publish
true reports of
proceeding except secret sittings without permission of
to have secret sittings
to informed of the arrest and release of members
to punish for its contempt or breach of privilege
court can inquire into proceedings of house or any
committees. No legal process
[civil / criminal] can be served without informing
Enjoyed by every member.
cannot be arrested during sessions of the parliament. 40
days before beginning
and 40 days after end of each session. This extends to
civil cases not criminal
cases or preventive detention.
have freedom of speech in parliament. No member can be
held liable for anything
said or vote given in parliament in any court.
refuse to give evidence or bear witness during
Breach of privilege
an act by which any person or authority attacks the
rights, immunity's or privileges
of individual or house.
an act of omission which may or may not breach any
specific privilege but lower
dignity and authority of the house. Thus it has a wider
create additional privileges for itself and if these
violate any fundamental
right then these privileges can’t be invalidated as they
hold higher ground.
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