Privilege Motion - Indian Polity Notes

The privilege motion is moved by a member when he feels that a minister or any member has committed a breach of privilege of the House or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts. This article shall discuss in detail the privilege motion. It is an important topic with respect to the upcoming UPSC 2020 exam.

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What is Privilege Motion?

The Members of Parliament are granted certain privileges individually and collectively so as to perform their duties properly. But if any of the members disregard or misuses any of these privileges or rights, it is considered as a breach of the privilege motion and is liable for punishment under the Parliamentary laws.

This motion is applicable for members of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and if any member notices another member or members breach it, they can move the privilege motion against the accused members.

Candidates preparing for the IAS exam can visit the linked article for more details regarding the exam.

Breach of Privilege Motion

A breach of privilege is an infringement of any of the privileges of MPs or Parliament. Parliamentary privilege refers to the rights and immunities enjoyed by Parliament as an institution and Member of Parliament in their individual capacity, without which they cannot discharge their functions as endowed upon them by the Constitution.

Chapter 20 of rule 22 for Lok Sabha and Chapter 16 Rule 187 for the Rajya Sabha have mentioned the Privilege motion. The scrutiny regarding the breach of this motion in the Lok Sabha is managed by the Speaker and that in the Rajya Sabha is managed by the Chairperson. Once the Speaker or the Chairperson considers the accusations to be true then the accused is called to explain themselves. 

A committee of 15 members is elected by the Speaker in the Lok Sabha and a committee of 10 members is elected by the Chairperson at the Rajya Sabha. These committees are responsible for managing all the cases and accusations related to the privilege motion and take relevant actions against and breach of the motion.

Cases of Privilege Motion

There have been various complains raised for the breach of the privilege motion. There have a few cases that rather a lot of public attention. Few of the most important ones are mentioned below:

  • The most recent breach of privilege motion was passed on to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister of the country, claiming that they had misled the members of the Parliament on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
  • The most significant privilege motion was passed in 1978 against Indira Gandhi. The motion was passed on by the then Home Minister Charan Singh claiming excesses made by her during Emergency. She was found guilty and was expelled from the House.
  • In another case, in 1976, Subramanian Swamy, a BJP MP was expelled from the Rajya Sabha for disgracing the Indian Parliament through his interviews to foreign journals.

Multiple other cases have been recorded and many have been rejected by the Committees of both the Houses of Parliament. The major reason to introduce the privilege motion was to ensure that no Minister misuses his powers once he gets the privileges of a person of higher authority.

Candidates can also read the Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings to know more about other parliamentary motions.

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