News By/Courtesy: Nikshetaa Jain | 18 May 2020 13:44pm IST


  • What are Parliamentary privileges?
  • Tej Kiran Jain v Sanjiva Reddy: Freedom of Speech and Expression
  • MSM Sharma v S.K Sinha: Prohibition on publication of proceedings

Parliamentary privilege refers to the rights of the Member of Parliament to do or not to do something inside the Parliament. It also includes certain immunities such as ad freedom of speech & expression, internal autonomy, rulemaking power, and so on. Parliamentary privileges are available to all the persons sitting in the Parliament including the Attorney General. Laws of the Parliaments will apply pari materia to the laws of the states in word, but its application is mutatis mutandis, which means alterations may apply. 
Article 105 defines the powers and the privileges of the two houses of the Parliament. Parliamentary privileges are of two types: i) Internal: - which is available during the session of the Parliament and ii) External: which are available against the actions of an MP outside the Parliament.
The first privilege is freedom of speech & expression, an absolute privilege. In Tej Kiran Jain v Sanjiva Reddy, Jagadguru Shankaracharya made certain remarks on untouchability in March 1969. In April, a discussion took place in Lok Sabha where derogatory comments were passed against him. Jagadguru’s disciples filed a suit for damages. It was held that whatever is said during the sitting of the Parliament and in the course of its business is immunized.
The second privilege is the prohibition on publication of proceedings. If a part of the proceedings in the Parliament is expunged by the Speaker or the Chairman, then that part cannot be published. Under article 118, both the houses of the Parliament have the power to make rules for the conduct of the business of the House. An inquiry for contempt of court is started by referring the matter to the Committee of Parliamentary Privileges, which comprises of fifteen members of Lok Sabha and ten members of Rajya Sabha. The Committee submits a recommendatory report. A person charged with contempt of the House can be ordered to answer the Committee. 
 In MSM Sharma v S.K Sinha, a member of the Bihar Legislature made a speech on the floor of the House. The Speaker ordered certain parts of the speech to be expunged. However, the newspaper ‘Searchlight’ published the entire statement. When the Committee of Privileges of the House summoned the editor, he filed a writ petition stating that his Fundamental right of freedom of speech & expression under article 19(1)(a) was being violated. The court held that parliamentary privileges under article 105 are not subject to article 19(1)(a).
The second issue, in this case, was that the petitioner contended that proceedings before the Committee of Privileges threatened article 21 as the proceedings before the Committee was not establishes by law. The court held that the House has the power to make rules under article 118, and those rules would fulfill the requirement of ‘procedure established by law’ under article 21.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 19 May 2020 17:59pm IST

Tags : #Parliamentary privileges

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