Need to codify parliamentary privileges

We have a written Constitution which we have amended it about 86 times. Yet, there is no codification of the privileges and powers of the parliamentarians and we have to look to the British House of Commons for guidelines. Britain has an unwritten Constitution. Since ours is a written Constitution, there is no point in leaving this grey area to vagueness.

As to why the legislators have not codified their own privileges is best answered by the celebrated Lok Sabha Speaker A. S. Ayyanagar in the Journal of Parliamentary Affairs (Vol VI 1960): “Priviliges can be codified by law, and when this law is made then it will be subservient to the Fundamental Rights and shall be subjected to scrutiny as contemplated under Art. 13 (2) which could be, wherever necessary, struck down by the Supreme Court. According to Mr Ayyangar, the legislature does not seem to be prepared to be subservient to judicial review. Therefore, the cat is out of the bag that legislatures (including Parliament) do not want to curtail their hitherto unlimited powers and privileges.

The law is same for citizens and legislators. Hence, the Supreme Court should once and for all decide this knotty problem and advice by a direction to codify the powers and privileges under Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution.

dr devinder singh, Advocate, Amritsar



November 7, 2003 is the blackest day in the history of Indian journalism for it was on this day that the Tamil Nadu government chose to swoop down on The Hindu, one of the oldest and most reputed newspapers. The government’s ill-conceived and atrocious action is utterly untenable and indefensible. It was an act of vengeance, aimed at gagging and silencing a relentless crusader fighting against evil, intolerance and injustice.

Apparently, the powers that be at Chennai’s Fort St. George resort to browbeating, fascist and terror tactics to suppress the voice of dissent and stifle the freedom of Press. They seem to ignore the fact that the Fourth Estate, together with judiciary, executive and legislature, constitute the four pillars of democracy. In today’s world, the media plays a crucial role in safeguarding, protecting and preserving a vibrant democratic polity. Pen, after all, is mightier than sword. An unfettered and vigilant Press is an indispensable instrument to ensure the smooth and effective functioning of a just and people-centric system of governance.

wg-Cdr a.n.b. pillai (retd), Chennai


Apropos of the editorial “Amma’s ammunition” (Nov 10), when a despotic and vengeful politician moves on the vendetta as Ms Jayalalithaa has often been doing, it clearly shows that she has been blinded by an excessive and undeserved adulation of her sycophants. Ever since she succeeded in bypassing, postponing and dropping of corruption cases against her, she has displayed little respect for the constitutional norms and proprieties. Ms Jayalalithaa is using the legislative privileges as a weapon to stifle all criticism of her style of governance.

Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s stay on the execution of imprisonment awarded to the Editor of The Hindu and others by the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the question is whether our politicians can be restrained from making such a misuse of their “brute majority” in the House. If a legislature, by sheer coincidence of majority of a political party, can gag the freedom of the Press, where does the common man go for his simple rights of freedom of speech and independence of opinion? Where does he hope to get redressal against such infringements of the basic necessities of democratic existence?

ved guliani, Hisar


The action of the Tamil Nadu Assembly against the editorial staff of The Hindu is highly deplorable and uncalled for. It deserves to be pooh-poohed nationally and internationally in the harshest terms for it is an deliberate attempt to muzzle the freedom the Press. The move is unprecedented in the history of democratic India.

The media exposes the misdeeds of the offenders with relentless efforts which invariably invites the wrath of those exposed. Democracy draws its sustenance from media persons who have great penchant for information to serve the people and the nation. We, the democrats of 21st century, are trying to gag the voice of free Press when 200 years ago Napolean Bonaparte feared the Press most when he said, “I can face the cannon but fear the Press.”

karnail singh, Ranjit Singh Dam

Traffic cops only for VVIPs?

It appears that the Chandigarh Traffic Police are only for the protection of VVIPs and their children. The road in front of Vivek High School in Sector 38 is literally out of bounds from 7.30 am to 9.15 am and 12.30 pm to 2.15 pm with the presence of large posse of police stopping the residents from using it and causing inconvenience to the general public. Suddenly, the one-way sign has sprung up near Gurdwara and near the front gate of the school. The reason given was safeguarding the school children from traffic hazard.

So far so good but very close to Vivek School are two more schools — Stepping Stones and Government School which don’t have the luxury of the Traffic Police directing the traffic there. Are the lives of children studying in Government School or other schools less precious than those studying in Vivek School?

Before experimenting with any new traffic management scheme, due attention should be paid to the overall good of the residents and the general public.


Stamp duty cut

The decision on cut in stamp duty from 6 per cent to 5 per cent on purchase of property etc is yet to be implemented by the Sub-Registrar, Chandigarh. He has not yet received any notification. Senior citizens are very much worried. Early notification of the reduction in duty is requested.

RAM MURTI, Vice-President, Senior Citizens Council, Chandigarh


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