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“Parliament is Supreme” - PART II

The Parliament today debated the Censure Motion Introduced by Shri Sharad Yadav and Smt. Sushma Swaraj, against the members of Team Anna, alleging that they acted in a manner, derogatory to the parliament and the members of parliament. All the parliamentarians spoke of the Sanctity of the Institution and the Privileges of the House and its members.

It was like a re-run of the debate of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2011, where whole house was busy in praising the institution of Parliament and stating that Parliament is Supreme. The whole drama unfolded and was reported in media as the bill was not passed in Rajya Sabha. The Government that day proved the Government is Supreme and the Parliament is probably having some identity crisis.

I would dare not say that the Parliament is not supreme, but, I will respectfully submit that the Members have by discussing such motions, and not standing up to the occasion when the time requires, have themselves deprived the institution of the sanctity.

The Members themselves also have done certain things that have harmed the sanctity of the institution. The members have given unnecessary stress on the words and statements of team Anna and have therefore even given more strength to their statements. It would have been better if some grace had been shown and after simply condemning the same the Parliament could have discussed some important issues disturbing the nation. This view was also shared by certain members in their speech on the issue in Loksabha today.

The members of Parliament are elected representatives and therefore it’s even more of their duty to be gracious with the sentiments of people. If some citizen of the country expresses anguish on the political scenario then it is more of the matter of self-introspection and not a matter of debate in the house. The debate on the censure motion has been reported in the media as Netas Vs Team Anna. This debate  in my view has in-fact given even more strength to the criticism of the MP’s by the members of Team Anna.

This also gives rise to one more issue. Whether we need a codified law with regards to the sanctity of the parliament and the Privileges of the Parliament?

There is no law codified which defines what are the privileges and sanctity of the institution of democracy?  What can be permitted? What cannot be permitted? Where the line is drawn between criticism and breach of privileges? Whether Truth can be a defense?

So there will always be confusion in the minds of the critics of the democratic institutions. They will never be sure that whether their criticism will go down well with the members sitting in there or not? I would humbly submit that the Parliament – as the fountainhead of the democracy in India needs to codify the law dealing with its own privileges.

And yes, if the unity that the MP’s showed today while discussing the privileges is shown while discussing the important issues concerning the people of the country, such embarrassing position will never arise.

May the wisdom prevail on one and all!!


-- Punit B Juneja

Juneja Legal (The Law Firm)


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