Updated: Feb 7
The powers, privileges and immunities of either House of the Indian Parliament and of its Members and committees are laid down in Article 105 of the Constitution Of India. This is an enabling provision which enables the Members of Parliament to discharge their legislative duties effectively and without any obstruction. However, this article does not accord the Members of Parliament any special immunity from the law, outside the House.
Article 105 in The Constitution Of India
105. Powers, privileges, etc of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees thereof
(1) Subject to the provisions of this constitution and the rules and standing orders regulating the procedure of Parliament, there shall be freedom of speech in Parliament
(2) 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
(3) In other respects, the powers, privileges and immunities of each House of Parliament, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as may from time to time be defined by Parliament by law, and, until so defined shall be those of that House and of its members and committees immediately before the coming into force of Section 15 of the Constitution (Forty fourth Amendment) Act 1978
(4) The provisions of clauses ( 1 ), ( 2 ) and ( 3 ) shall apply in relation to persons who by virtue of this constitution have the right to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of, a House of Parliament or any committee thereof as they apply in relation to members of Parliament.
The language of Article 105 is "mutatis mutandis"(making necessary alterations while not affecting the main point at issue) the same as that of Article 194 except that for the expression "Parliament" in Article 105 the expression "legislature of a State" is used in Article 194 Of The Constitution Of India.
As Article 194 deals with the powers, privileges and immunities of the State Legislatures, their Members and their committees.
The 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.
There are two types of privileges which were foretold under the article 105 of the Indian constitution - 1. Freedom of speech in Parliament
2. The right of publication of its proceedings.
Freedom of speech
For the effective functioning of parliamentary democracy, the freedom of speech in Parliament is guaranteed. This is to enable the Members to express themselves freely in the House without any fear or favour.
The right of publication of its proceedings
All person connected with the publication of proceeding of a House are protected in the same is made under the authority of the house itself. The immunity of publication does not apply to publishing of secret meeting of the house of parliament or legislature. It should also be kept in mind that the immunity extends only to a “report” of the proceedings of the house and not to any “article” or “comment” on the proceedings.
The Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1956 provided that no person shall be liable to any proceedings, whether civil or criminal, in any court in respect of the publication of a substantially true report of the proceedings of either House of Parliament unless it is proved that the publication of such proceedings was expressly ordered to be expunged by the Speaker.9 This position has been made much stronger by the insertion of Article 361A by the Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, 1978.
Who Enjoys Parliamentary Privileges?
Basically Parliamentary Privileges rights are mainly for 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.
1. Freedom from arrest of Members in civil cases during continuance of the Session of the House and 40 days before its commencement and 40 days after its conclusion.
2. Exemption of Members from liability to serve as jurors.
3. Right of the House to receive immediate information of the arrest, detention, conviction, imprisonment and release of the Member.
4. Prohibition of arrest and service of legal process within the precincts of the House without obtaining the permission of the Speaker.
5. Prohibition of disclosure of the proceedings or decisions of a secret sitting of the House.
6. All Parliamentary Committees are empowered to send for persons, papers and records relevant for the purpose of the enquiry by a committee.
7. A Parliamentary Committee may administer oath or affirmation to a witness examined before it.
8. The evidence tendered before a Parliamentary Committee and its report and proceedings cannot be disclosed or published by anyone until these have been laid down on the table of the House.
9. The right to prohibit the publication of its debates and proceedings.
10. Right to exclude strangers from the House.
11. Right to commit persons for breach of privilege or contempt of the House, whether they are members of the House or not.
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.