The 'Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and its Members' as envisaged in Article 105 of the Constitution leave room for a large number of un-codified and un-enumerated privileges to continue. Assess the reasons for the absence of legal codification of the 'parliamentary privileges'. How can this problem be addressed?
Published: January 22, 2015
Article 105 of the Indian constitution broadly identifies two rights of parliamentary members and committees, namely their right to freely expressly themselves in Parliament and right to not be prosecuted for publication of comments/statements or vote made in Parliament. These two broad statements have left room for interpretation, which was taken over by the courts. Other than this, Article 105(3) states that the powers, privileges and immunities of the members and the committees of Parliament will be determined by law which shall be passed in Parliament. However, in India, the legislators have not passed any law delineating the powers, privileges and immunities of members and committees of Parliament. In such a scenario, the powers, privileges and immunities will be considered to be the same which was in force before section 15 of the 44th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 1978. Prior to 1978, India followed the law which governed the members of UK’s House of Commons, so even though UK’s rules relating to parliamentary privileges have changed over time, India still follows the rules in existence prior to 1978. This results in the following of archaic, ill-defined rules for determination of powers, privileges and immunities of members of Parliament. This issue can be addressed by drafting and passing a law in Parliament that clearly specifies the ‘Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and its Members’.
Model Questions Category: 033 - Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States