New Delhi, August 5
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday clarified that “MPs do not enjoy any immunity from arrest in criminal cases when the House is in session and they cannot avoid summons issued by law enforcement agencies”. While privileges give a member protection from civil laws during session, it does not make them impervious to criminal proceedings, Naidu said.
No protection in criminal cases
While privileges give a member protection from civil laws during session, it does not make them impervious to criminal proceedings. M Venkaiah Naidu, Rajya Sabha Chairman
Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned for almost half an hour till 11.30 am on Friday as Congress members created an uproar alleging misuse of probe agencies by the government.
“I have given it a serious thought and examined all precedents. I remembered my own ruling also,” Naidu said while addressing the Upper House during zero hour. Congress members trooped into the well of the House, protesting against the alleged misuse of central probe agencies. They said Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had been insulted as he was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday during the working hours of Parliament.
Naidu said under Article 105 of the Constitution, MPs enjoyed certain privileges so they could perform their duties without hindrance. “One of the privileges is that an MP cannot be arrested in a civil case 40 days before the commencement of the session or committee meeting and 40 days thereafter,” Naidu said, adding the privilege was already incorporated under Section 135A of the Civil Procedure Court.
“However, in criminal matters, MPs are not on a different footing than a common citizen. That means members of Parliament do not enjoy any immunity from being arrested in criminal cases during the session or otherwise,” Naidu clarified.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman cited his past observations in this regard and Supreme Court rulings. He reiterated that no member of the House should avoid appearing before any investigating agency if he was summoned.
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