Breach of Privilege

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 22, 2023, 10:43

Breach of Privilege refers to the infringement of any of the privileges of the Member of Parliament (MP). An MP enjoys some special rights, immunity, exemptions, and privileges entrusted to them by the parliament. When any of these rights are disregarded, it is termed as a Breach of Privilege, which is a punishable act when held guilty.

The Constitution of India has provisions that specify the privileges and immunities for the MPs. It also lists the course of action to be taken in case the privileges are breached. Find out more about Breach of Privilege, its complete meaning, and examples here.

Breach of Privilege Meaning

A Breach of Privilege occurs when a Member of Parliament (MP) infringes upon any of his/her privileges. Such type of breach can occur in many different ways. In case a Breach of Privilege is caught, a trial can be held against the MP. It is important to uphold constitutional values while enjoying constitutional rights.

  • Any member of the House can move a Breach of Privilege notice against the accused.
  • The recent notice of Breach of Privilege was given to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister in the Lok Sabha by Congress.
  • A law of Parliament states that a Breach of Privilege is to be punished appropriately.

Privileges of MPs

According to the Indian Constitution, all MPs enjoy certain rights and privileges inside the parliament. In Articles 105 and 194, the following privileges are granted to the MPs.

  • Freedom of Speech: During the course of proceedings, the MPs are granted absolute immunity for their speech.
  • Right of Publication of its Proceedings: It states that no MP shall be liable to any proceeding in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in the Parliament.

Breach of Privilege Rules

There are certain rules that govern the Breach of Privilege and determine the course of action against the accused. The following are the rules governing the privileges:

Article 105 of the Constitution

  • It mentions the Freedom of Speech in parliament, which protects speech during the proceedings of the house and prohibits the use of unparliamentary language and the conduct of a member.
  • It also mentions the right to publish its proceedings when fearlessly and freely the member speaks their minds during the House proceedings.
  • By addressing the speaker, any Member can question the Breach of Privileges of any individual member of the house.

Article 194 of the Constitution

  • No member of the Parliament is liable to any course of action planned against anything said by them in the House.
  • In case of inquiry, it is mandatory to be related to any recent incident requiring the intervention of the house.
  • Freedom from arrest and the right to punish members or outsiders for contempt.
  • Right to regulate the internal proceedings of the house and exclude unknown or outsiders.

Breach of Privilege Examples

Some of the very common and typical kinds of Breach of Privileges that are punishable and can be regarded as offensive are

  • Reflections on the character.
  • Publication of the distorted report.
  • Expunged proceedings of the hours.
  • Impartiality of the speaker in the discharge of their duty and even publication of the secret sessions held by the members of the parliament.

Breach of Privilege Punishment

Breach of Privilege is a serious concern that is punishable by the law of the Parliament. Here, we have shared details on how MPs who violate their privilege receive punishment.

  • Acts of Breach of Privilege are imposed with a penalty or punishment.
  • The MPs that infringe on their privileges also get warnings or are reprimanded.
  • In worse cases, they are suspended or dismissed from the house.
  • In the case of Breach of Privilege, the penal powers are fractionated only in extreme cases of disrespect and undermining public confidence in and support of parliament.
  • It should not discourage the freedom of expression of opinion of any member of parliament.

Breach of Privilege: Procedure

A procedure is followed in case a Breach of Privilege is alleged by any member of Parliament. A political party can accuse a member of the House of a breach. Here are the details about the procedure of Breach of Privilege that follows an allegation.

  • Depending on the party's strength in the house, quasi-judicial powers are exercised by the chairpersons.
  • Or, the speaker decides on the motion and forwards it to the privilege committee by abiding by the due procedures regarding the house's dignity.
  • A decision is then taken against the alleged MP accused for Breach of Privilege.

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FAQs on Breach of Privilege

Q1. What is a Breach of Privilege?

Violation of the privileges, referring to rights and immunities enjoyed by the members of the parliament, is a Breach of Privilege. The Members of the Parliament enjoy special privileges, the violation of which, can lead to a disciplinary course of action that can result in cautionary warnings or expulsion, in worse cases.

Q2. What is the punishment for Breach of Privilege in the Indian parliament?

Based on the severity of the Breach of Privilege, punishment may vary from a warning to expulsion or suspension from the house or even imprisonment. Breach of Privilege can become a serious concern, depending on the extent of the breach.

Q3. What is an example of a Breach of Privilege?

Any member of parliament offending against the dignity or authority of the house and directly or indirectly obstructing or impeding any member in discharging his duty can be considered a Breach of Privilege. The member can be suspended or even imprisoned for a serious Breach of Privilege.

Q4. What is the general procedure in case of an alleged Breach of Privilege?

Depending on the party's strength in the house, quasi-judicial powers are exercised by the chairpersons, or the speaker decides the motion and forwards it to the privilege committee by abiding by the due procedures regarding the house's dignity.