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Courts can’t interfere, government tells SC
Parliament’s power of expulsion of MPs
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 13
On the issue of courts’ interference in Parliament’s decision of expelling 11 MPs in the cash-for-query scam, the government today took a bold stand before the Supreme Court saying it was the prerogative of the legislature to manage its internal affairs and discipline its members.

Advocate T.R. Andhyarujina, who appeared for the Union Government, told a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, that in such a matter “the court cannot interfere in exercise of the power by Parliament under Article 105(3).”

He although admitted that in the Constitution the power of expulsion had not been explicitly given to the legislature but it could assume such power under Article 105(3) in respect of Parliament and Article 194 regarding state assemblies.

“The concept of Parliamentary privilege is misconstrued by politicians with their elections. The privileges are available to them for participation in any legislative business but not in any business outside the House. It is available individually to the members and collectively to the House for its effective functioning in matters of legislative business and upholding overall superiority of Parliament,” Andhyarujina said.

The power to expel a member was as important as an individual MP’s privilege and the privilege of the House under Article 105, he told the Bench, which is hearing petitions of 10 ex-MPs from the Lok Sabha and one from the Rajya Sabha.

“Despite this, not many instances are there in our Parliamentary democracy of the misuse of the power of expulsion. Our Parliament has a very good record with only two cases of expulsion from the Lok Sabha and one from the Rajya Sabha before this case. Except one case (Indira Gandhi), no MP has been sent to jail,” government counsel pointed out.

Under Article 105(3), Andhyarujina said, Parliament could assume power to regulate its internal affairs, including disciplining it MPs against any misconduct and take action against contempt and breach of Parliamentary privileges against any person from outside.

He said in England, a joint parliamentary committee set up in 1997 after long deliberations had recommended that Parliament should have clearly laid down powers for expelling an MP for misconduct, sending him to jail, imposing unlimited fine on him, suspending and reprimanding him despite the fact that the last expulsion there had taken place in 1947.

Arising of the need for such provision in the country of the birth of Parliamentary democracy showed that any gross misconduct of MPs needed to be tackled, he said.

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