In order to maintain the dignity, independence and autonomy of the Parliament and that it can do its work without any hindrance, the members of the Parliament and its various bodies have been given certain privileges by the Constitution, this is called Parliamentary Privilege .

In this article, we will discuss this parliamentary privilege in a simple and easy way , and try to understand its various important aspects.

Parliamentary Privilege
Parliamentary Privilege
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Meaning of Parliamentary Privilege

Parliamentary privileges are those privileges, immunities and exemptions enjoyed by both the Houses of Parliament, its committees and its members. These privileges are necessary for the independence and effectiveness of their actions. It is because of these rights that the House is able to maintain its autonomy and dignity. It is mentioned in Article 105 of the Constitution.

Apart from the people and groups mentioned above, the Constitution has also given parliamentary rights to the Attorney General of India. Under which they speak and participate in either House of Parliament or any of its committees. [The point to be kept in mind here is that the President does not get parliamentary powers even though he is a part of the Parliament.]

Classification of Parliamentary Privileges

Parliamentary privileges are classified into two categories: 1. Collective privileges – these are the rights which are collectively exercised by both the Houses of Parliament, and 2. Personal privileges – these rights. used by its members individually.

1. Collective privilege

The collective privileges in respect of both the Houses of Parliament are as follows:- 1. It has the right to publish its report, debate and proceedings and not to allow others to publish it. Although according to the 44th Amendment Act of 1978, the Press can publish a true report of the proceedings of the Parliament without the prior permission of the House, but this is not applicable in the case of a secret sitting of the House.

2. It can exclude guests from its proceedings and can hold secret meetings to discuss some urgent matters.

3. It can make rules for the conduct and management of its proceedings and for the decision of such matters.

4. It can warn or punish members as well as outsiders for breach of its privileges or contempt of the House.

5. It has the right to receive immediate information regarding the prisoner, conviction, imprisonment or release of any member.

6. It can make inquiries and order the attendance of witnesses and related papers and records.

7. The Court cannot inquire into the proceedings of the House or its committee.

8. No person can be imprisoned nor can any legal action be taken in the House area without the permission of the Presiding Officer.

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2. Personal privilege

Some of the privileges related to individual rights are as follows:-

1. He cannot be imprisoned during the proceedings of the Parliament, 40 days before the commencement of the proceedings and 40 days after the closure of the proceedings. It is to be remembered here that this right is applicable only in civil cases and not in criminal and restrictive prohibition cases.

2. He has the freedom to make speeches in the Parliament. A member cannot be proceeded with in a court of law for a speech made in Parliament or for any vote.

3. They are free from adjudication service. They can refuse to produce evidence or appear in court cases pending during Parliament session.

breach of privilege and contempt of the house

When any person or authority insults or invades the privileges, rights and immunities of a Member of Parliament in individual and joint capacity, it is called breach of privilege and is punishable by the House.

Any kind of act or omission which obstructs the performance of the House, its members or officers, which directly or indirectly results contrary to the dignity, power and honor of Parliament, shall be treated as contempt of Parliament .

Generally, a breach of privilege can result in contempt of the House. And likewise contempt of the House can also involve breach of privilege. But it is to be remembered here that even without breach of privilege, there can be contempt of the House. For example, disobeying the legislative order of the House is not a breach of privilege, but contempt of the House is definitely.

Privileges Committee 

As we have just read above that the Members of Parliament and Committees enjoy certain privileges. When any question of breach of these privileges arises, or a breach has taken place, it is referred to the Committee of Privileges to inquire into and report thereon. Both the Houses have their own Committee of Privileges which is constituted every year by the Presiding Officer.

The committee constituted by the Lok Sabha consists of 15 members and the committee constituted by the Rajya Sabha consists of 10 members. The function of the committee is quasi-judicial in nature, yet if it ever makes recommendations, it is usually not overlooked.

Procedure for raising matters – Any member can put on the table of the Parliament matters relating to privileges. If a member of the House is asked by the Speaker to raise a matter of privilege, that member makes a brief statement relating to the question of that privilege.

If there is an objection to the leave being raised by other members of Parliament thereafter, the Speaker requests those members who are in favor of the member raising the privilege issue, to stand in his place.

If twenty-five or more members stand up, the House is deemed to have allowed the matter to be raised, then the Speaker declares that permission is granted.

And if this is not done, the Speaker informs that member that he has not been permitted by the House to raise that privilege matter.

Note – Permission to raise issues of privilege in the House can be given only to a member who has given notice of the privilege to the Secretary-General.

source of parliamentary privilege

Basically, Article 105 of the Constitution enshrines two privileges:- Freedom of speech in Parliament and the right to publication of its proceedings. Other privileges are considered the same as those of members of the House of Commons, the UK’s lower house.

It may be mentioned here that the Parliament has so far not made any specific law regarding codification of privileges. Usually they are based on 5 sources:- 1. Constitutional provisions, 2. Various laws made by Parliament, 3. Rules of both the Houses, 4. Parliamentary tradition, and; 5. Judicial Interpretation.

So here is the Parliamentary privilege and some of the main things related to it. Other articles related to Parliament are being given below, must also read them.

Parliamentary Privilege Practice quiz upsc

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