The powers and privileges given to the legislature are essential for discharging their duties, however, there is a need to maintain balance between legislative privileges and fundamental rights.

The parliamentary privileges are key to effective, independent and efficient functioning of the parliament and its members.

Source of Privileges:

  • Article 105 of constitution.
  • Constitutional conventions.
  • Judicial decisions.
  • Influence of British parliament.

Significance:

  1. Individual
    • Freedom of speech and expression – not liable for anything said/vote given in office.
    • Freedom from jury service.
    • Freedom from arrest.
  2. Collective
    • Right to publish/ prevent publication of its proceedings.
    • Hold secret meetings.
    • Be informed about arrest of its members.
    • Punish members/ outsiders for breach of privileges.

Together, these special rights and privileges ensure that:

  • Parliament and members can dedicate full time to office.
  • Act independently without fear.
  • Secure authenticity and sanctity in eyes of people.

However, these special rights act as limitation on fundamental rights of others.

  • Outsiders can be barred from attending secret meeting of house – interfere with right to information.
  • In recognition of the same, it is important to codify the privileges as recommended by commission to review working of constitution.

Well defined, restricted and judicious use of privileges is key to securing parliamentary autonomy while respecting other’s fundamental rights.

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