Committee disapproves codification of Parliamentary privileges

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (UNI) The Committee of Privileges of the Lok Sabha has emphasised the need for creating an awareness about the term parliamentary privileges, while rejecting the suggestion for its codification.

In its eleventh report on 'Parliamentary Privileges Codification and Related Matters' laid before the House today, the committee headed by Mr V. Kishore Chandra S. Deo observed ''the Committee is of the considered view that there doesn't arise any occasion for codification of parliamentary privileges and as a matter of fact, an awareness needs to be created with regard to the true import of the term parliamentary privileges and the ground realities that exist.'' The committee which studied all aspects of parliamentary privileges in Parliament of UK, said that Parliamentary privileges were made available to members of Parliament solely to enable them to perform their parliamentary duties unfettered. Members while not performing their parliamentary duties do not enjoy any privileges.

The committee clarified that privileges are not any special rights which are conferred upon members in exclusion of common citizens. Privileges are enabling rights of members to put across the views and voice the concern of their constituents fearlessly. Regarding the penal powers of the House for breach of privilege or contempt of the House, it observed that it had been sparingly used. During the past five and a half decades in Lok Sabha, there had been only one case of admonition, two cases of reprimand and one case of expulsion for commission of breach of privileges and contempt of the House.

In Rajya Sabha, there had been two cases of reprimand for commission breach of privilege and contempt of the House.

It also took into account the cases of misconduct of 10 members of Lok Sabha and 3 members of Rajya Sabha who were subsequently expelled and also suspension of five Lok Sabha members.

Besides, in the MPLADs case, it observed that the four members of the Lok Sabha were suspended for their improper conduct which did not strictly relate to their parliamentary duties. The said members could have escaped punishment had they been tried in any court of law as none of them were actually shown to have accepted money on the relevant video footage.

The Committee, therefore, observed that penal powers of the Houses had been directed more against their own members rather than against outsiders.

It said that members against whom notice of question had been given had always been given fullest opportunity of being heard.

Besides, there had been no instance where committee of privileges had held that a breach of privilege or contempt of the House had been committed if the member was not performing any of his parliamentary duties.

In the light of the above facts, there had not been any misuse of the power of privileges as 'erroneously believed in some quarters', the Committee noted, while recommending against codification of parliamentary privileges.

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