Committee of Privileges

Committee of Privileges

Committee of Privileges

  • The Committee of Privileges consists of 15 members in Lok Sabha (10 in the case of Rajya Sabhanominated by the Speaker (Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha).
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the Deputy Chairperson heads the Committee of Privileges.

Powers and Functions of the Committee of Privileges

  • The Committee of Privileges 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.
  • The Committee of Privileges 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 grounds 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 applicable to questions of breach of privilege.

Parliamentary Privilege

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.

Are these parliamentary privileges defined under law? 

  • According to the Constitutionthe powers, privileges, and immunities of Parliament and MPs are to be defined by Parliament.
  • No law has so far been enacted in this respect. In the absence of any such law, it continues to be governed by British Parliamentary conventions.

What is a Breach of Privilege? 

  • A breach of privilege is a violation of any of the privileges of MPs/Parliament.
  • Among other things, any action ‘casting reflections’ on MPsparliament, or its committees; could be considered a breach of privilege.
  • This may include publishing news items, editorials, or statements made in newspaper/magazine/TV interviews or in public speeches. 

What are the Rules Governing Privilege?

  • The Constitution (Article 105) mentions two privileges,i.e. freedom of speech in Parliament and right of publication of its proceedings.
  • Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha Rulebook governs privilege.
  • A member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House.
  • The rules mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House.

What is the Role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the Privileges Committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is allowed to make a short statement.

Related Links:

Parliamentary CommitteeSpeaker & Pro-tem Speaker
Council of MinistersPresident of India