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Daily News Analysis

PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGES

6th August, 2022 Polity and Governance

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In News

  • The Chairman of Rajya Sabha has stated that Members of Parliament have a wrong belief that during the session they have a privilege from action taken by the investigating agencies.
  • He highlighted that as lawmakers, the member must respect the law and legal procedures.
  • He mentioned that Under Article 105 of the Indian Constitution, Members of Parliament enjoy certain privileges so that they can perform their parliamentary duties without any obstruction.
    • A Member of Parliament cannot be arrested in a civil case, 40 days before the beginning of the session or committee meeting and 40 days thereafter. This privilege is already included under section 135A of the Civil Procedure Code.
    • However, in criminal matters, MPs do not enjoy any immunity from being arrested in a criminal case during the session.

 

Parliamentary Privileges

  • They are the special rights, immunities and exemptions enjoyed by the Members of Parliament, parliamentary committees and their members.
    • These privileges do not extend to the president who is also an integral part of the Parliament.
  • These privileges are necessary to secure their independence in working.
  • Without these privileges;
    • The Houses cannot maintain their authority, dignity and honour.
    • The House cannot protect its members from any obstacle in the discharge of their parliamentary responsibilities.
  • The Indian Constitution has also extended these privileges to the persons who are authorised to speak and take part in the Parliamentary procedures or any of its committees.
    • These include the attorney general of India and Union ministers.
  • These Privileges can be classified into two broad categories:
    • Collective Privileges - Those that are collectively enjoyed by the each House of Parliament.
    • Individual Privileges - Those that are individually enjoyed by the members.

 

Collective Privileges

  • Parliament has the right to publish its reports, debates and proceedings and also the right to prohibit others from publishing the same.
    • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 restored the freedom of the press to publish true reports of parliamentary proceedings without prior permission of the House.
    • But this is not applicable in the case of a secret sitting of the House.
  • It can exclude strangers from its proceedings and hold secret sittings to discuss some important matters.
  • It can make rules to regulate its procedure and the conduct of its business.
  • It can punish members as well as outsiders for breach of its privileges.
  • It has the right to receive immediate information about the arrest, detention, conviction, imprisonment and release of a member.
  • The courts are prohibited to inquire into the proceedings of a House or its committees.
  • No person (either a member or outsider) can be arrested, and no legal process (civil or criminal) can be served within the House without the permission of the presiding officer.

 

Individual Privileges

  • Members of Parliament cannot be arrested during the session of Parliament and 40 days before the beginning and 40 days after the end of a session.
    • This privilege is available only in civil cases and not in criminal cases or preventive detention cases.
  • They have freedom of speech in Parliament. No member is liable to any proceedings in any court for anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or its committees.
  • They are exempted from jury service. They can refuse to give evidence and appear as a witness in a case pending in a court when Parliament is in session.

 

 

Sources of Privileges

  • The Parliament, till now, has not made any special law to exhaustively codify all the privileges.
  • At Present, all the privileges are based on 5 sources:
    • Constitutional provisions.
    • Various laws made by Parliament.
    • Rules of both the Houses.
    • Parliamentary conventions.
    • Judicial interpretations

 

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