New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu clarified Friday that Members of Parliament (MP) do not enjoy any immunity from arrest in criminal cases when the House is in session. Venkaiah Naidu said MPs they cannot avoid summons issued by law enforcement agencies when the House is in session.
Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned for almost half-an-hour till 11.30am Friday as Congress members created an uproar alleging misuse of probe agencies by the government.
When the Upper House assembled for the morning session, Venkaiah Naidu proceeded with the scheduled business of laying of the listed papers on the table, but had to adjourn the House within a few minutes.
More than 10 Congress members trooped into the ‘Well’ of the House. They were protesting against the alleged misuse of central probe agencies. The Congress members said the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, has been ‘insulted’ as he was summoned Thursday by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during the working hours of Parliament.
When the Upper House reassembled after the adjournment at 11.30am, Naidu said there is a wrong notion among the members that they have a privilege from action by agencies while Parliament is in session. He said that under Article 105 of the Constitution MPs enjoy certain privileges so they can perform their duties without any hindrances.
One of the privileges is that a Member of Parliament cannot be arrested in a civil case 40 days before the commencement of the session or committee meeting and 40 days thereafter, Naidu said. He added that this privilege is already incorporated under Section 135A of the Civil Procedure Court.
“However, in criminal matters Members of Parliament are not on a different footing than a common citizen. That means MPs do not enjoy any immunity from being arrested in a criminal case during the session or otherwise,” Naidu pointed out. He cited his past observations in this regard and Supreme Court rulings.
Naidu reiterated that no member of the House should avoid appearing before any investigating agency if he is called upon to do so, by citing reasons of the House duty.
“It applies to all…Because you can only perform when the House is in session seeking further date but you cannot avoid the enforcement agencies or the law enforcement agencies’ summons or notices. This has to be taken note of by one and all,” the Rajya Sabha Chairman said.