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Indian Polity

Privilege Motion

  • 12 Nov 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Congress’ chief whip in the Rajya Sabha sought to move a privilege motion against the Union Culture Minister over the appointment of chairperson of the National Monuments Authority (NMA).

  • The educational and professional background of the current chairperson of NMA does not meet the requirements of law passed by Parliament in March 2010.

National Monuments Authority (NMA)

  • Established: NMA is set up under the Ministry of Culture as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act (AMASR) which was enacted in March, 2010.
  • Functions: Several functions have been assigned to the NMA for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated areas around the centrally protected monuments.
    • NMA also considers grant of permissions to applicants for construction related activity in the prohibited and regulated areas.
  • Qualifications for the Appointment of the Chairman: AMASR Act says that the chairperson of the NMA should have “proven experience and expertise in the field of archaeology, country and town planning, architecture, heritage, conservation architecture or law”.

Key Points

  • About: It is concerned with the breach of parliamentary privileges by a minister.
  • Breach of Parliamentary Privileges: Parliamentary Privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”.
    • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.
    • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.
    • Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.
  • Role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha (RS) Chairperson:
    • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
    • The Speaker/Chairperson can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of the Parliament.
      • If the Speaker/Chairperson gives consent under relevant rules, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.
  • Rules Governing Privilege:
    • 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.
    • Rules say that 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 or a committee thereof.

Parliamentary Privileges

  • Parliamentary privileges are special rights, immunities and exemptions enjoyed by the two Houses of Parliament, their committees and their members.
  • The Constitution also extends the parliamentary privileges to those persons who are entitled to speak and take part in the proceedings of a House of Parliament or any of its committees. These include the Attorney General of India and Union ministers.
  • The parliamentary privileges do not extend to the President who is also an integral part of the Parliament. Article 361 of the Constitution provides for privileges for the President.
  • Article 105 of the Constitution expressly mentions two privileges, that is, freedom of speech in Parliament and right of publication of its proceedings.
  • Apart from the privileges as specified in the Constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provides for freedom from arrest and detention of members under civil process during the continuance of the meeting of the House or of a committee thereof and forty days before its commencement and forty days after its conclusion.
  • It needs to be noted that the Parliament, till now, has not made any special law to exhaustively codify all the privileges.

Privilege Committee

  • It is a Standing Committee. It examines the cases of breach of the privileges of the House and its members and recommends appropriate action.
  • The Lok Sabha committee has 15 members, while the Rajya Sabha committee has 10 members.

Source: TH

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