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Privileges Committee

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar has directed the Privileges Committee to investigate the disorderly conduct by 12 Opposition Members of Parliament.

Why in news?

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar has directed the Privileges Committee to investigate the disorderly conduct by 12 Opposition Members of Parliament.

About Committee of Privileges

  • This committee consists of 15 members in Lok Sabha (10 in case of Rajya Sabhanominated by the Speaker(Chairman in case of Rajya Sabha).
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges.

Powers and Functions

  • The committee examines every question involving a breach of privilege of the House or of the members or of any Committee thereof referred to it by the House or by the Speaker/Chairman. 
  • It also determines with reference to the facts of each case whether a breach of privilege is involved and makes suitable recommendations in its report.
  • It also states the procedure to be followed by the House in giving effect to its recommendations.
  • When a question of privilege is referred to the Committee by the House, the report of the Committee is presented to the House by the Chairman or, in his absence, by any member of the Committee.
  • Where a question of privilege is referred to the Committee by the Speaker, the report of the Committee is presented to the Speaker who may pass final orders thereon or direct that it be laid on the Table of the House.
  • The Speaker/Chairman may refer to the Committee any petition regarding the disqualification of a member on the ground of defection for making a preliminary inquiry and submitting a report to him.
  • The procedure to be followed by the Committee in these cases is so far as may be the same as in applicable to questions of breach of privilege.

What are Parliamentary Privileges?

  • Parliamentary privilege refers to rights and immunities enjoyed by Parliament as an institution and MPs in their individual capacity, without which they cannot discharge their functions as entrusted upon them by the Constitution.

Constitutional privileges

  • Article 105 – Pertains to the powers, privileges, etc, of Parliament, its members and committees.
  • Article 194 – Protects the privileges and powers of the houses of legislature, their members and committees in the states.

Collective Privileges

  • The ability to publish reports, debates, and proceedings, as well as the ability to prevent others from doing so.
  • It can publish truthful reports of Parliamentary proceedings without the House’s authorization under the freedom of the press.
  • However, in the case of a House meeting held in secret, this right of the press does not apply
  • Keep strangers out of the gathering and organise covert sessions to address vital issues.
  • Make rules to govern its own procedure and commercial activity, as well as to adjudicate on such issues.
  • Right to immediate notification of a member’s arrest, custody, conviction, imprisonment, and release
  • Initiate inquiries and compel a person’s attendance
  • The courts are not allowed to investigate a House’s or its committees’ proceedings
  • Without the consent of the Presiding officer, no one (whether a member or an outsider) can be arrested, and no legal process (civil or criminal) can be served within the House’s boundaries.

Individual Privileges

  • During the session of legislature, from 40 days before the beginning to 40 days after the finish, no member may be arrested.
  • This privilege is only granted in civil matters; it is not granted in criminal or preventive detention situations
  • Members have the right to free expression.
  • No member of Parliament or its committees is accountable in any court for anything said or voted in Parliament or its committees.
  • This independence is limited by the Constitution’s provisions as well as the norms and standing orders that govern Parliament’s functioning.
  • They have the right to decline to give evidence and testify in court.

Rules concerning the privilege Motion:

  • The rules governing the privilege are mentioned in Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha
  • The rules explain that any member of the House may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving an incident that he or she considers a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or a committee.

Role of Speaker and Chairperson:

  • The speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha are the first levels of scrutiny of a privilege motion in the two Houses of Parliament.
  • They can either decide on the privilege motion or can also refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.

FAQs about Privilege Committee and Parliamentary Privileges

1. Why is the Rajya Sabha Chairman directing the Privileges Committee to investigate?

The Rajya Sabha Chairman has directed the Privileges Committee to investigate the disorderly conduct of 12 Opposition Members of Parliament. This move aims to examine if there has been a breach of privilege of the House or its members and to recommend appropriate actions.

2. What is the Committee of Privileges?

The Committee of Privileges is a parliamentary committee consisting of members nominated by the Speaker (or Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha). It examines questions involving breaches of privilege of the House or its members and makes recommendations for action.

3. What powers and functions does the Committee of Privileges have?

The committee examines questions involving breaches of privilege referred to it by the House or the Speaker/Chairman. It determines if a breach of privilege is involved and recommends suitable actions. It also outlines the procedure for implementing its recommendations.

4. How does the Committee handle cases referred by the House or Speaker?

When a question of privilege is referred by the House, the committee’s report is presented to the House by the Chairman or any member of the committee. When referred by the Speaker/Chairman, the report is presented to them, and they may pass final orders or lay it on the Table of the House.

Read also:-What are Committees of Parliament?

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