India is called the world's largest democratic country. The power to make law exists with the Indian Parliament. The members of the lower house of Parliament are elected from the direct election while the members of the upper house are elected from the Legislative Assembly of States and Union territories by means of Single transferable vote through Proportional representation.
In this article we are explaining the parliamentary privileges enjoyed by the members of the Parliament and their committees.
Originally the constitution envisaged two types of privileges under the article 105 of the Indian constitution. One is freedom of speech in Parliament and the right of publication of its proceedings.
Concept of parliamentary privilege in the Constitution of India has been taken from the British Constitution. The main motive of these privileges is to uphold the supremacy of the office of the Parliament and its members.
What are Parliamentary Privileges?
Parliamentary privileges are special rights, immunities, exceptions enjoyed by the members of the two houses of Parliament and their committees.
Who Enjoys Parliamentary Privileges
These rights are mainly from the members of both the Houses of Parliament. Apart from this, these rights are also given to those individuals who speak and participate in any committee of the Parliament, which includes the Attorney General of India and the Union Ministers.
It is necessary to tell that the President, even if he is part of Parliament, does not have parliamentary privileges.
Parliamentary privileges can be broadly divided into two categories;
A. Enjoyed by the Members of Parliament collectively
B. Enjoyed by the Members of Parliament individually
The collective privileges of Members of Parliament are as follows;
1. No person (either a member or outsider) can be arrested and no legal process (criminal or civil) can be initiated within the premises of the house without the permission of the presiding officer of the house.
2. No Court has the right to investigate proceedings of the House or any of its committees.
Parliament can exclude guests from its proceedings and in some cases of national interest it can also hold a secret meeting on any important matter.
4. Parliament can punish members as well as outsiders for breach of its privileges or its contempt by reprimand, admonition or imprisonment (also suspension or expulsion in case of members).
Individual Privileges are as Follows;
1. When the Parliament is in session, a Member of Parliament or a privileged person may refuse to appear in court or to present any evidence in a court.
2. The members of Parliament can’t be arrested during the session of the Parliament and 40 days before the beginning and 40 days after the end of the session. However this privilege is available in civil cases only not in criminal cases.
3. No member is liable to any proceedings in any given court for anything said or any vote by him/her in the parliament or its committees.
What is called breach of Parliamentary Privileges;
If any person or officer violates the individual or collective privileges of a Member of Parliament, such as, disrespect, abuse, attack, etc., such acts are considered as breach of Parliamentary Privileges which is punishable by the house.
Thus, the above facts make it clear that Parliamentary Privileges in India have been enforced so that the respect of Parliament its members can be ensured.
But it is observed that after winning the election, these representatives do not respect the public while on the other hand they expect that public should give them due respect.
Apart from this, you may have noticed that Parliamentarians are often seen misbehaving with the officials and the general public. This is called misuse of parliamentary privileges.
Therefore, it is the need of the hour that if government want to maintain the dignity of the democracy then it should make appropriate changes in the parliamentary privileges because nobody can be superior to the general public.