• Clauses (1)-(2) of Arts. 105 and 194- of our Constitution deal with two matters, viz., Freedom of speech and right of publication.

  • 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 part.

  • 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enacts any provision relating to any particular privilege at any time, the English precedents will to that extent be superseded in Its application to our Parliament.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 Law.

  • 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 the House.

  • 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 India.

  • 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 ensure independence and effectiveness of their actions. Without a privilege the house can’t maintain is dignity, neither honor nor protect its members from any 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 parliament.

Collective privileges:

That belong to both houses are:

  1. Right 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 house.
  2. Right to have secret sittings
  3. Right to informed of the arrest and release of members
  4. Right to punish for its contempt or breach of privilege
  5. No court can inquire into proceedings of house or any committees. No legal process [civil / criminal] can be served without informing presiding officer.

Individual privileges:

Enjoyed by every member.

  1. They 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.
  2.  They have freedom of speech in parliament. No member can be held liable for anything said or vote given in parliament in any court.
  3. Can refuse to give evidence or bear witness during parliament sessions.

    Breach of privilege is an act by which any person or authority attacks the rights, immunity's or privileges of individual or house.    

     Contempt of house is 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 implication.    


     Parliament can 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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