Wanted: Debate on codification of privileges

APROPOS of Dr V. Eshwar Anand’s article “The tyranny of privileges: Codification a must to check abuse a power” (Nov 28), the existing privileges give legislatures too much discretion to decide what constitutes a breach of privilege or contempt of the House. Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a breach of privilege. As a result, it is very difficult for one to know whether a certain act constitutes contempt of the House. So legislatures themselves should define privileges in conformity with the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the principles of natural justice.

Dissent or difference of opinion is the hallmark of a democracy. Healthy criticism is a must for effective administration and good governance. Politicians should not have egos. They are supposed to check their arbitrariness and arrogance. Democracy itself guarantees dissent.

The Press cannot be held responsible for ferreting out the truth. It is time for a nationwide debate on codification of privileges of the legislators for the protection of the freedom of the Press. As the Press is an important pillar of democracy, all attempts to gag it should be resisted.





I endorse the view that the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s action on The Hindu smacks of Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s dictatorship which poses a serious threat to democracy. Healthy criticism by the media should always be encouraged as this will put the government on the right track.

No leader in this country can stand before the might of the Press. On their part, the general public will not allow muzzling of the Press under any circumstances. No individual can arrogate to himself the sovereignty that vests in the Constitution. What happened in Tamil Nadu is a clear violation of the Constitution.

There is an urgent need to codify the privileges of the legislators so that the privileges are not used as tools to muzzle the voice of the media and browbeat the journalists.

Prof K.L. BATRA, Yamunanagar


Apropos of Dr V. Eshwar Anand’s article “The tyranny of privileges”, in a healthy and functional democracy, the freedom of speech and expression, more so in the case of the Press, is the pre-requisite of any judicious governance. Is it not ironical that the legislators consider themselves beyond the reach of the law even when they throw mikes, paperweights and chairs at one another in the full glare of TV cameras and visitors in the galleries?

No doubt, the privileges and the honour of a House should always be maintained because therein lies the healthy growth of a democracy. However, have the presiding officers of these legislatures never felt perturbed when many of its members turn out to be proven criminals and against whom criminal cases are pending in different courts of the country? Ms Jayalalithaa, whose very political existence is based on dubious deeds of omission and commission, should look inward before trampling upon the Indian Press that has always maintained the highest standards objective reporting.

At present, the need is not of a well-defined and unambiguous code of parliamentary privileges but stopping our wayward politicians from making an arbitrary and whimsical use of their constitutional power.


A glimmer of hope

Mrs Geetanjali Gayatri’s report “Deepalaya is making a difference” (Nov 22) revives our drooping spirits, offering a glimmer of hope for a better world order in this materialistic, self-seeking society, as we are fed up of reading about the rampant corruption and scams among politicians and their friends, killing and looting of innocent people almost every day. It is, perhaps, because of selfless and committed people like Deepalaya organisers that the reigns of ‘Kaliyug’ are held back from establishing itself.

I really appreciate the noble venture started by Mr Mathew and his associates to translate the noble tenets of their religion, to be a light and salt, as contained in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. Ch. 5) to transform society by reaching out to the less privileged ones in our surroundings.

Be assured, friends, you shall always grow from strength to strength because of the assuring promise and presence of your Lord and Master who never fails — “You teach and observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” — Gospel according to Mathew Ch. 28, 20.

Fr. THOMAS K.J. President, Roshni, Rajpura


Untrained architects

The Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Department has authorised some categories of professionals/ persons to deal with the architectural jobs for which they are not qualified and trained. Such professionals pose themselves as architects in their drawings and visiting cards, willfully avoiding to disclose their actual qualifications, misleading and befooling the general public for monetary gains.

It may be noted that any person who can draw lines is not an architect in the strict sense of the term. As per the Architects Act, 1972, it is totally prohibited for a person to practice as an architect except the person registered with The Council of Architecture. The Architect Act, 1972, is a Central law and is applicable throughout India as per Gazette notification of the Government of India No. 229, dated Sept. 1, 1972.

Architectural services come under 8 per cent Service Tax of Central Excise and Customs. Architects registered with the Council of Architecture pay the tax regularly but the persons authorised to do practice in planning areas of town and country planning in Himachal Pradesh are not deposing the same though they are doing the same work, making no contribution to the government.

AMIT SOOD, Architect, Solan

Strong will needed

Apropos of the editorial “Compounding a crime” (Nov 30), I don’t think shifting the liquor by mere 150 yards from national/state highways will really dissuade people from drinking while driving. However, cancelling the driving licence of a person for the rest of his life or awarding exemplary punishment, if found drunk while driving, may act as a deterrent. For this a strong will is required as most of those who matter are themselves a part of the cocktail circuit.


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