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Privilege Motion – in Indian Context

The Constitution of India defines some privileges and immunities which include freedom of speech in the parliament and freedom from court proceedings for anything said in the parliament for members of parliament / state legislature (Under Article 194 of the Constitution).

Rules state that the House has the power to determine and define what constitutes a breach of privilege apart from those already mentioned.

Breach of privilege
A breach of privilege motion can be moved against any individual or authority which or who violates the privilege or immunity conferred upon the House, its members including the MP or MLAs or the committee.

Speaker / Chairperson of the house does the first level of scruitiny may decide on the privilege motion at their own discretion or they may refer it to a parliamentary committee. If the Speaker/Chairpers on admits the motion, then the concerned member is given an opportunity to explain themselves by making a short statement.

Punishment for breach of privilege
The Committee also has the power to issue summons to the person against whom the motion of breaching the privilege has been passed and then to decided the form of punishment either by imprisonment or by admonition (firm warning) or by reprimand (formal expression of warning / disapproval)

Instances in Past

>In 2017, KB Koliwad, Karnataka Assembly Speaker ordered jail term to two journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raju for publishing allegedly defamatory reports against legislators.

>In 1978, then Home Minister Charan Singh moved Privilege Motion against MP from Chickmagalore, Mrs. Indira Gandhi on the basis of observations made by Justice Shah Commission, which investigated the excesses during the Emergency. Mrs Gandhi,was expelled from the House. This decision was rescinded (revoked) by Lok Sabha later.

>Subramanian Swamy was expelled from Rajya Sabha in 1976 for bringing alleged disgrace to Parliament through his interviews to foreign publications.

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