Supreme Court rejects plea to penalise MPs disrupting session
The Supreme Court Monday declined to entertain the plea seeking direction to presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to withhold the salaries, perks and privileges of members involved in disrupting and stalling the proceedings of parliament.
Declining the plea by advocate Satish Chandra, a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai asked him if the court could issue direction to the Lok Sabha speaker or the Rajya Sabha chairman on how to conduct the proceedings of the respective houses.
Declining to give any direction, Chief Justice Sathasivam noted that the object of the constitutional scheme was to ensure that each of the constitutional organs functioned within their respective assigned sphere and that was the philosophy inbuilt into the Constitution's Article 122.
Reminding the petitioner that he has done Master's in law and was no layman, the CJI referred to the 2010 judgment of the apex court's Constitution Bench which held that the "validity of the proceedings and business transacted in the house cannot be tested and gone into by this court in a proceeding under Article 32 of the Constitution".
Further quoting from the Constitution Bench judgment, he said it had held that the speaker "is the guardian of the privileges of the house and its spokesman and representative upon all occasions. He is the interpreter of its rules and procedure, and is invested with the power to control and regulate the course of debate and to maintain order".
Chief Justice Sathasivam also told Chandra that the verdict said the decision of the speaker, in whom powers are vested to regulate the procedure and the conduct of business, is final and binding on every member of the house.
He said the apex court had held that it was the "right of each house of parliament to be the sole judge of the lawfulness of its own proceedings. The courts cannot go into the lawfulness of the proceedings of the houses of parliament".
Besides seeking that the salaries, perks and privileges of the members who disrupt the proceedings of parliament be held back, the petitioner sought direction that if such a legislator draws his benefits, then he should face action under the Prevention of Corruption Act and debarred from contesting elections.
The petition also urged the court to ask the Election Commission to make it mandatory for candidates who are seeking re-election to file an affidavit stating the number of times they had disrupted the proceedings of the house.
(Posted on 02-12-2013)