Parliamentary privileges


Congress president and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on July 26 said that he was “insulted” when his microphone was turned off while he was speaking during the session. He called it a breach of his Parliamentary privilege.

About: Parliamentary Privileges

Legislators are provided protection from civil or criminal liability for certain actions taken or remarks made while performing their legislative duties under the legal immunity known as parliamentary privilege.

In nations whose constitutions are founded on the Westminster system, it is typical.


Members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons are free to express themselves during regular parliamentary procedures in the UK without worrying about facing legal repercussions for slander, contempt of court, or violating the Official Secrets Act.

This allows Members to raise questions or debate issues which could slander an individual, interfere with an ongoing court case or threaten to reveal state secrets.

Similar rights apply in other Westminster system countries such as Canada and Australia.

In the United States, the Speech or Debate Clause in Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a similar privilege.

Many state constitutions provide similar clauses for their state legislatures.


Parliamentary Privileges in India

The government of India based largely on the Westminster model, grants limited immunity from legal proceedings to members of Parliament and State Legislature.

Under Articles 105 and 194 respectively, of the Indian Constitution. Article 105(2) reads as follows:

“No member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof, and no person shall be so liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper, votes or proceedings.”

These privileges exempt the legislator from civil liability but not from criminal liability for any statement made or act done in the course of their duties.

The privileges are claimed only when the person is a member of the house. 

As soon as he/she ceases to be a member of the parliament, the privileges become null and void.

Parliament has not made any special law to exhaustively codify all the privileges. They are rather based on five sources:

  1. Constitutional provisions
  2. Various laws made by Parliament.
  3. Rules of both the Houses
  4. Parliamentary conventions
  5. Judicial interpretations

Freedom of Speech in Parliament:

A member of the parliament is given a different kind of freedom of speech and expression than is allowed to the general public under Article 19(2).

Therefore, the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizens under A. 19 (1) (a) is distinct from and unrelated to A. 194 (1), and it has no bearing on the first portion of clause 1.

According to Article 105(1) of the Indian Constitution, it is guaranteed. However, freedom is constrained by the laws and decrees that govern parliamentary processes.

He or she cannot be held liable for anything uttered during the session that constitutes defamation.

According to Article 118 of the Constitution, the right to free speech must be in compliance with the constitution and be subject to parliamentary norms and regulations.

Members of the parliament are forbidden from discussing the actions of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court under Article 121 of the Constitution.


Freedom from Arrest:

When the house is in session and for 40 days before and after its adjournment, members are not subject to arrest in any civil case.

To ensure that their ability to fulfill their duties is not impeded, no member may be taken into custody outside of the boundaries of the parliament without the consent of the house to which they are assigned.

The chairman or speaker should be informed by the responsible authorities of the reason for the arrest whenever any members of the parliament are taken into custody.

But under the Preventive Detention Act, the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), the National Security Act (NSA), or any other similar law, a member may be detained outside the boundaries of the house if there are criminal accusations brought against him.

Right to Prohibit the Publication of Proceedings:

No person shall be held accountable for publishing any reports, deliberations, etc., of the house under the authority of the member of the house, according to Article 105(2) of the Constitution.

It is crucial that the public be informed of the proceedings in order to maintain coherence and national importance and to keep them informed about what is happening in parliament.


Right to Exclude Strangers:

The members of the house have the power and right to prevent strangers and other non-members from participating in the proceedings. This right is crucial for ensuring fair and open debate in the House.


Right of Publication of Proceedings

No one shall be accountable for the publication of any report, paper, votes, or procedures pursuant to an order issued by a house of Parliament, according to Clause (2) of Article 105.

One of the privileges is that a member of parliament is exempt from civil arrest 40 days prior to the start of a committee meeting or parliamentary session and for 40 days after.

However, ordinary citizens do not discriminate against members of Parliament in criminal cases.

It implies that a member of parliament has no immunity from being detained in connection with a criminal investigation, while in session, or for any other reason.

Posted by on 27th Jul 2023