Breach of Privilege


What does privilege breach mean?

Breach of privilege refers to some of the unique rights that legislators in a parliament or assembly enjoy that are essential to their ability to carry out their duties. These rights are specific to legislators and, as such, are not enjoyed by members of any other institution or group of people. These privileges are granted to members of the state legislature and members of the Indian Parliament, respectively, under Articles 105 and 194, which are equivalent articles in the Constitution of India.

Only two privileges are mentioned in the Constitution text and are briefly covered here:

Freedom of Speech

  1. As a result of this privilege under Articles 105 and 194, legislators are completely immune from legal action for anything said within the four walls of the house during sessions of the house or any of its committees.
  2. In essence, these articles safeguard speech inside the house, but when a legislator speaks outside the house, he or she has the same rights as anybody else.
  3. However, it must be remembered that this privilege is constrained by additional Constitutional clauses as well as other statutes and standing regulations governing parliamentary practice.
    • The prohibition placed by Article 121, which forbids any discussion in Parliament with regard to the behavior of a judge of the Supreme Court or High Court in the performance of his duties, is one example of such a restriction.
    • Similar to this, it is against the law for members of the Lok Sabha to behave or use language that is not proper.

Rights of Publication of its proceedings

  1. The Constitution also expressly guarantees that no Member of Parliament shall be subject to any legal action arising out of statements made or votes cast by him in the Parliament or any committee thereof.
  2. But a publication issued by an individual without a house’s permission is not covered by this Article’s protection.
    • An editor of a newspaper was found in contempt of court in Surendra v. Naba Krishna for printing a statement from the house.
    • In the Narasimha Rao case, a five-judge Supreme Court bench ruled by a 3:2 majority that the protection of immunity available to members of parliament is quite broad and extends to all civil and criminal proceedings for anything they may have said or done in the House of Representatives.
  3. This protection’s goal is to give members of Parliament the freedom and confidence to express themselves.

Legislators may also enjoy the following benefits

  • The absence of arrest.
  • Right to have private meetings and to bar outsiders from participating.
  • The authority to prohibit publishing of its sessions and reports.
  • The right to control internal processes.
  • Right to punish outsiders or other members for disrespect.

Examples of Privilege Breach

A breach of privileges is an offense that is penalized by the House and occurs when a person or authority ignores or challenges any of the rights, immunities, or privileges of either the Members individually or of the House collectively. Aside from violations of specific privileges, activities that are offences against the authority or dignity of the House, such as disobeying its proper commands or libelous statements against the House, its members, or its officers, are also penalized as acts of contempt of the House.

The following are some common instances of privilege violations and contempt:—

  • articles or speeches that comment on the House, its Committees, or its members;
  • reflections on the Speaker’s character and objectivity in performing his duties;
  • publication of a fabricated or skewed account of House proceedings; publication of House
  • proceedings that have been erased;
  • premature publishing of a legislative committee’s proceedings, testimony, or report;
  • publication of the House’s private session minutes.

If someone is determined to have violated a privilege or shown contempt for the House, the House may penalize them with one of the following actions:

  • Reprimand or admonishment
  • Removal from the House
  • Removal from the House


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