What Are Various Parliamentary Privileges In India?

Parliament of India:

The law-making power rests upon the hands of the Indian parliament. The parliament consists of the Lok Shabha and the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Shabha is also called as the lower house or the house of people, its members are elected directly. Whereas, the members of Rajya Sabha or the Upper House are elected indirectly by the members of the state legislative assemblies and the Union territories.

What are parliamentary privileges?

There are certain rights enjoyed by the members of the houses individually and collectively. These are privileges that are bestowed upon the members of the parliament by either statue or parliamentary customs. Without these rights it would be difficult for the members to exercise and discharge their powers, this ensures the smooth functioning of the parliament.

In interpreting these privileges, therefore, attention must be given to the general principle that the privileges of Parliament are granted to members in order that “they may be able to perform their duties in Parliament without let or hindrance.

Article 105 of the Indian constitution lays down the various privileges that can be enjoyed by the members of the parliament. This was done to ensure the supremacy of the parliament, which is inspired by the British constitution.  The privileges are also contained in Rule No. 222 of the Lower House and Rule No. 187 of the Upper House rulebook.

Article 105, of the Constitution of India states as follows:

Powers, privileges, etc of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees thereof

(1) Subject to the provisions of this constitution and the rules and standing orders regulating the procedure of Parliament, there shall be freedom of speech in Parliament.

(2) No member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof, and no person shall be so liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper, votes or proceedings.

(3) In other respects, the powers, privileges and immunities of each House of Parliament, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as may from time to time be defined by Parliament by law, and, until so defined shall be those of that House and of its members and committees immediately before the coming into force of Section 15 of the Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act 1978.

(4) The provisions of clauses (1), (2) and (3  shall apply in relation to persons who by virtue of this constitution have the right to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of, a House of Parliament or any committee thereof as they apply in relation to members of Parliament.

The constitution provides rights such as freedom of speech in the parliament, exemption to initiate proceedings against the other member for anything said or votes cast in relation to the parliamentary proceedings or committee; exemption to the member from any court proceeding initiated in matters of publication by or under the authority of the parliament. The Courts are restricted against leading an investigation on the proceedings of the parliament if any deviation is observed on the grounds of its validity. If the truth is publicised in the newspaper on account of the proceedings in either of the houses, no individual can be held liable be it civil or criminal unless it can be proved that it is done with a malicious intention.

Who Enjoys Parliamentary Privileges?

These privileges are enjoyed by the members of the parliament i.e., the Upper House and the Lower House members individually as well as collectively. Along with that, persons who represent, deliver and partake in the committee of the Parliament also enjoy certain privileges. But this benefit is not extended to the president even though he constitutes a part of the parliament.

Statutory Provisions:

Along with Article 105 of the Indian constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 lays a few guidelines on account of freedom of arrest or detention i.e., forty days before and after and starting and ending of the parliamentary session respectively.

What are the powers laid upon the members?

(a) Parliamentary Privileges enjoyed collectively are:

No individual can be arrested and no legal proceedings can take place within the premises of the parliament and the permission of the officer of the house must be taken. The Courts cannot investigate the parliamentary proceedings or the committees of the Houses. If any situation pertaining to national security or interest arises, it can hold confidential meeting to discuss the matters pertaining to the aforementioned topic.

  1. Right to publish the debates during the proceeding: the media can publish the debates but the parliament has the power to prevent such publication. Within the parliament he has the freedom of speech but it is not extended to the member with respect publication outside the Houses.
  2. Right to exclude strangers: the parliament can choose to restrict the visitors in order to maintain and resolve the debates confidentially.
  3. Right to regulate internal matters: the house has the sole right to regulate these matters.

(b) Parliamentary Privileges enjoyed individually:

The member of the parliament can decline to show up in Court or provide any evidence when the parliament is in session. In the case of civil matters, the member of the parliament cannot be arrested for forty days before and after the beginning and ending of the session respectively. This is only extended to civil matters and not criminal cases. Also there cannot be any proceeding against the member for anything said, vote cast in the parliament or the committee.

  1. Freedom of speech: there can be no lawsuit filed for expressing his opinions during the parliamentary proceedings.
  2. Freedom from arrest: Only in civil matters and not criminal cases.
  3. Immunity from attending as a witness

Punishment for breach of Parliamentary Privilege:

When the members commit acts or violate the collective/individual privileges bestowed upon them, then such acts can be punishable by the house itself. The House has the power to impose punishments to ensure discipline and to prevent any sort of misbehaviour.

The parliament has the power to expel its members and it is solely to internal matters of the Houses.

“When any of these rights and immunities is disregarded or attacked, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under the law of Parliament. Each House also claims the right to punish contempt’s, that is, actions which, while not breaches of any specific privilege, obstruct or impede it in the performance of its functions, or are offences against its authority or dignity, such as disobedience to its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its members or its officers.”

Contempt: Generally speaking, any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence.”

A member may be punished not only for his disorderly behaviour inside the House, but also for any conduct outside the House which tends to impair its dignity and authority. The power of the House to punish its own members for their conduct outside the House which is prejudicial to its dignity and of its members and is inconsistent with the standard of behaviour expected of them.

Along with that the parliament has the power to punish outsiders for the offences committed or for those who are found guilty of contempt. A member can be removed or expelled for acts of misbehaviour within the parliament.

As rightly pointed, Privileges of Parliament do not place a Member of Parliament on a footing different from that of an ordinary citizen in the matter of the application of laws, unless there are good and sufficient reasons in the interest of Parliament itself to do so.


It is the duty of the members to honour the privileges given to them and to see to that they are used in a resourceful manner. These rights must not be misused by the members by the ways of abuse or any misconduct. Hence, these privileges give the members a chance to expressing themselves and seek the betterment of the country and its people by the ways of debates and discussion.


  • https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/rsat_work/CHAPTER%E2%80%948.pdf
  • https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/parliamentary-privileges-in-india-1548994252-1
  • https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/01/03/parliamentary-privileges/

This article has been written by Rhea M B, 2nd year, BBA LLB at PES University.

Also Read – Parliamentary Sovereignty Under Constitution Of India

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