Privilege Motion

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Privilege Motion: What Is It?

In order for the members of parliament to effectively carry out their duties, they are each individually and collectively allowed specific privileges. However, it is deemed a breach of privilege and is punishable under parliamentary laws if any member disregards or abuses any of these rights or privileges.

Members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha may initiate a privilege motion against the accused members if they discover that another member or members have violated the motion.

Parliamentary Privilege: What is it?

  1. The term “privilege” refers to a set of privileges enjoyed by each House of Parliament, its Committees, and the individual members of each House, without which they would be unable to carry out their duties successfully and efficiently.
  2. Parliament’s freedom, power, and dignity are to be protected by parliamentary privilege.
  3. However, they are only accessible to individual members inasmuch as it is required for the House to operate freely and without any restrictions.
  4. The application of laws does not put a member of parliament on a different footing than a regular citizen unless there are compelling grounds that are in the best interests of Parliament.
  5. The following are some of the more significant privileges each House of Parliament, its members, and Committees enjoy:
    • Speech freedom in the legislature,
    • a member’s immunity from legal action in any court related to statements made or votes cast in Parliament or a committee thereof,
    • a person’s immunity from court actions relating to the publication of any report, paper, votes, or proceedings by or at the direction of either House of Parliament, a prohibition on court inquiries into Parliamentary proceedings, and
    • Members are not subject to arrest in civil matters while the House is in session, as well as for forty days prior to and for forty days following it.

However, preventative arrest or detention pursuant to statutory authority, by executive order, or in criminal proceedings is not covered by the privilege of freedom from arrest.

Motion for Breach of Privilege

  1. Any violation of an MP’s or Parliament’s privilege is a breach of privilege.
  2. The Privilege Motion is discussed in Chapter 20 of Rule 22 for the Lok Sabha and Chapter 16 of Rule 187 for the Rajya Sabha.
  3. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha oversees the investigation into any violations of this motion, and the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha oversees that investigation.
  4. The accused is called to the stand once the Speaker or the Chairperson determines that the accusations are true.
  5. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha elects a committee of 15 members, and the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha elects a committee of 10.
  6. These committees are in charge of handling all the cases and allegations pertaining to the privilege motion and taking the necessary counteractions and motion violations.

Privilege Motion Cases

Several complaints on the violation of the privilege motion have been made. A few examples have received a fair amount of media attention. Here are a few of the most significant ones:

  1. The state minister for parliamentary affairs has proposed a privilege resolution calling for the suspension of Trinamool Congress MP for the remainder of the present session. The Rajya Sabha’s chairs have given their approval to this move.
  2. A breach of privilege motion was previously passed against the country’s Prime Minister and Defense Minister, alleging that they had misled Parliamentarians about the Rafale fighter jet sale.
  3. The most major privilege motion against Indira Gandhi was adopted in 1978. The motion was approved by Charan Singh, the then-home minister, who cited atrocities committed by the petitioner during the Emergency. After being adjudicated guilty, she was kicked out of the House.

There have been numerous additional examples reported, and many of them have been denied by the committees of both Houses of Parliament. The primary goal of the privilege motion was to prevent any Minister from abusing his authority once he obtained the privileges of someone with greater responsibility.

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