Press and Electronic media has to report the proceedings of the Parliament and
State Legislatures. In the process they may confront the privileges of the
parliamentarians. Any defiance of legislative order or any scandalization of
legislative conduct can be viewed as contempt of House for which House has
authority to punish. The Constitution provides several privileges to the
Article 105(1) provides freedom of speech in parliament with
an assurance that there would be no legal action for defamation even if what was
said was not relevant to the business of the House. There will be no liability
for anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any Committee
thereof. Article 105(2). There will be no liability in respect of publication of
any report, paper, votes or proceedings by/or under the authority of either
House. The publication without authority is not protected and may incur the
Privileges of an MP and MLA
According to the Constitution, the powers, privileges and immunities of
Parliament and MP's ar to be outlined by Parliament. No law has to this point
been enacted in this respect. In the absence of any such law, it continues to be
ruled by British Parliamentary conventions.
The privileges individually enjoyed by the members are:
Freedom of speech in parliament:
The members of the parliament are provided with the liberty of speech and
expression. As the actual essence of our democracy is certainly a free and
fearless discussion, something said by them expressing their views and thoughts
are exempted from any liability and cannot be tried in the court of law.
The freedom of speech and expression certified to a national citizen under
Article 19(2) is completely different from the liberty of speech and expression
provided to a member of the parliament. It has been ensured under Article 105(1)
of the Indian constitution. But the liberty is subject to rules and orders that
regulates the proceedings of the parliament. This right is given even to
non-members who have a right to speak in the house. Example, attorney general of
India. So that, there's a fearless participation of the members within the
dialogue and each member will proposes his thought.
Freedom from Arrest:
According to the Article 361 of the Constitution of India, the members enjoy
freedom from arrest in any civil case 40 days before and after the adjournment
of the house and also when the house is in session. No member is perhaps
arrested from the proceedings of the parliament without prior permission of the
house to that he/she belongs in order that there's no hindrance in performing
If the detention of any members of the parliament is made, the chairman or the
speaker should be informed by the concerned authority, the reason for the
But a member may be arrested outside the limits of the house on criminal charges
against him under The Preventive Detention act, The Essential Services
Maintenance Act (ESMA), The
National Security Act (NSA) or any such act.
Freedom from appearing as a witness
The members of the parliament relish special privileges and are exempted from
attending court as a witness. They are given complete liberty to attend the
house and perform their duties with no interference from the court.
Privileges Provided to the Members Collectively as Part of Parliament:
Right to prohibit the publication of proceedings:
As stated in Article 105(2) of the Constitution, no one shall be held
responsible for publications of any reports, discussions etc. of the house under
the authority of the member of the house.
For predominant and national importance, it is essential that the proceedings
should be communicated to the public to aware them about what is going on in the
But, any partial report of separate a part of proceedings or any publication
created with malice intention is disentitled for the protection. Protection is
merely granted if it reflects the actual proceedings of the house. If any
expunged proceedings are printed or any false statement or misreporting is
found, it is held to be the breach of the privilege and contempt of the house.
Right to Exclude Strangers:
The members of the house have the authority and right to exclude strangers who
are not members of the house from the proceedings. This right is essential for
securing free and fair discussion within the house. If any breach is reported
then the punishment in the form of admonition, reprimand, or imprisonment can be
The Right to Regulate the Internal Affairs of the House:
Each house has a right to regulate its proceedings in the way it deems fit and
proper. Each house has its own jurisdiction over the house and no authority from
the other house will interfere in regulation of its internal proceedings. Under
Article 118 of the Constitution, the house has been empowered to conduct its
regulation for proceedings and cannot be challenged in the court of law on the
ground that the house is not in accordance with the rules made under Article
118. The Supreme Court has further held that this is often general provision and
also the rule isn't binding upon the house. They can deviate or amend the rule
Punishments for breach of privileges or contempt of the house
Powers of media article 361A
If the breach committed is of a grave nature the, penalty
will be given within the variety of the imprisonment of any member or person.
- Imposing fine:
If within the view of the parliament, the breach or
contempt committed is of economic offence and any monetary gain has been made of
the breach then, the parliament can impose fine on the person.
- Prosecuting the offenders:
The parliament also can prosecute the one
committing the breach.
- Punishment given to its own members:
If any contempt is committed by
the members of the parliament then, he is to be penalized by the house itself
that might also result in the suspension of the member from the house.
Article 361A provides qualified privilege to media for publishing the brief,
accurate and fair reporting of the proceedings, but it will not immune the media
from the liability under contempt of House in case of breach of privilege by the
media. Article 361A is not an exception to the immunity guaranteed to the
legislators under Article 105(3) and 194(3).
The law of privileges affects the press and media. They may be either liable for
breach of privilege or contempt of house.
The media persons may confront the
According to the first possibility mentioned above:
- Violation of any of the rules of procedures framed by the House.
- Breach of any privileges of legislators
- Publication of comments or other statements which undermine dignity of
the House or shake the confidence of the public in legislature, which can be
punished as contempt of house.
- The House has total control over the presence or otherwise of persons
within the House.
- It can regulate the entry of media persons into it. It can prohibit a
part of proceedings from being reported.
- Press Gallery Committee decides the entry permissions to accredited
- It can be withdrawn or cancelled either by Chairman of Rajya
Sabha or by Speaker of Lok Sabha.
- If withdrawal is ordered under rule 387, disobedience may result in
forcible withdrawal or arrest and it may also constitute contempt.
In case of MSM Sharma v S,K.Sinha
AIR 1959 SC 395, the editor of Search Light
newspaper published an expunged remark from the proceedings of Bihar Assembly,
for which breach of privilege was issued. The Editor approached the Supreme
Court under Article 32 contending that the notice of action under breach of
privilege violates his fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) and also
interfere with the his personal liberty under Article 21 if arrested in
pursuance of the privilege motion. The Supreme Court with majority opinion ruled
that the Assembly had the right to claim the said privilege under Article 194(3)
of the Constitution as was enjoyed by House of Commons.
Sanjeeva Reddy Case:
The speaker of Lok Sabha Mr N. Sanjeeva Reddy has criticised the observations of
Tej Kiran, who was the follower and admirer of Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swamy of
goverdan Peeth Puri. It was reported that Shankaracharya supported
untouchability and walked out while National Anthem was played. On this, Mr
Sanjeeva Reddy, Y B Chawan and others made some strong remarks, which were
complained to be defamatory by Tej Kiran.
The High Court rejected the plaint of Tej Kiran claiming Rs 26,000 as damages from Sanjeeva Reddy and others for
making defamatory remarks. The Supreme Court ruled that parliament has complete
immunity to make fearless remarks on any matter and the courts had no say in the