[Answered] Discuss the Relevance of the Right to Speak with Parliamentary Privileges given by the constitution of India. Also, highlight the judicial stand on these rights.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain the relevance of the Right to Speak with Parliamentary Privileges given by the constitution of India. Also write judicial stand on these rights.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Article 105 of the Constitution deals with powers, privileges, etc of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees. Members of Parliament are exempted from any legal action for any statement made or act done in the course of their duties. This immunity extends to certain non-members as well, such as the Attorney General for India or a Minister who may not be a member but speaks in the House.

Relevance of the Right to Speak with Parliamentary Privileges:

  • It assists in ensuring the efficacy of the activities done by legislators and their independence, shielding them from unwarranted criticism.
  • It aids in upholding the members of parliament’s dignity, authority. It also honour and protects them from any interference with their ability to carry out their duties in the house.
  • The free speech of legislators protects the integrity of discussionsin Parliament and acts as a shield against the suppression by the executive.
  • Further, Freedom of expressionis regarded as the foundation of a liberal democracy and imposing unfair restrictions on legislators will hamper this foundation.

Judicial stand on these rights:

  • In the 1970 ruling in ‘Tej Kiran Jain v N Sanjiva Reddy’, the Supreme Court ruled that “the word “anything” in Article 105 is of the widest import and is equivalent to ‘everything’.
  • In ‘P V Narasimha Rao case (1998) a five-judge Bench of the apex court ruled that the ordinary law would not apply to the acceptance of a bribe by an MP in case of parliamentary proceedings. The court interpreted Article 105(2) and said that it protects MPs against proceedings in court related to anything said or a vote given in the Parliament.
  • The Court said that it will “enable members to participate fearlessly in Parliamentary debates” and that these members need the wider protection of immunity against all civil and criminal proceedings that bear a nexus to their speech or vote.

The responsibility to improve politics and bring an ecosystem that discourages irresponsible speech and corruption lies with the citizens more than with the laws. Constitutional safeguards exist to ensure the structural integrity of political democracy. Therefore, using these laws to correct political problems is not the solution.

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