Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday moved a privilege motion against Congress President Rahul Gandhi for twisting the name of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a tweet. Gandhi had referred to Jaitley as “Jaitlie” in one of his tweets. The privilege motion was moved by BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav in the Rajya Sabha during the zero hour. However, Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu cautioned Yadav against moving the motion as Gandhi was not present in the House to defend himself. Yadav had said that he had given the privilege notice under Rule 187 and alleged that Gandhi had “intentionally, maliciously and disrespectfully” twisted the name of the Finance Minister in the Tweet.
Yadav, who is also a Supreme Court lawyer, cited a 1954 precedent when, during the Prime Ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Special Marriage Bill was adopted by the Rajya Sabha. Then, Yadav said, Lok Sabha member NC Chatterjee had commented against the Rajya Sabha and a joint committee was formed to look into the issue. Chatterjee, who was the father of former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, had termed members of Rajya Sabha as ” a pack of urchins” and the statement was also published in the newspapers. Interestingly, NC Chatterjee had moved a counter-Privilege Motion, saying he was subjected to the jurisdiction of the Rajya Sabha even as he was a member of the Lok Sabha. Here it is important to know what actually the Privilege Motion is:
What is Privilege Motion
As per the Constitutional scheme of things, all members of the Parliament enjoy certain rights and immunities – this is also referred to as Parliamentary Privilege which is enjoyed both by the Parliament and the members in their individual capacity. This provision has been made in the Parliament so that they can discharge their functions smoothly.
There is no separate law for the privilege enjoyed by the Parliament and its members. The Constitution has left it to the Parliament to define the powers, privileges and immunities to be enjoyed by it and the members. In the absence of a separate law, parliamentary privileges in India are still governed by the British Parliamentary conventions.
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) December 27, 2017
Parliamentary privilege is breached when any of powers, privileges and immunities enjoyed by the Parliament/MPs is breached. Any action that casts reflections of MPs, Parliament or its committees can be considered a breach of privilege, including the publication of news items, editorials or statements made in newspaper, magazine, TV interviews or in public places.
There is also a provision of punishment for breach of parliamentary privilege. The House has the power to summon the offending person, warn him/her, or let go free or even sent to jail as per the case.