ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Democracy over Privilege

Breach of privilege sits incongruously with representative democracy.

The recent discourse on corruption in Parliament and by agitated members of civil society reached a new low during the course of the campaign for a Jan Lokpal Bill. If the words and actions by representatives of the Anna Hazare-led campaign denigrating parliamentarians were in poor taste, by invoking “breach of privilege” of Parliament the MPs themselves exhibited a knee-jerk reaction that was undemocratic.

Notices for moving a privilege motion were sent by 10 MPs from various parties to lawyers Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, former bureaucrat Arvind Kejriwal, retired police officer Kiran Bedi and actor Om Puri for their utterances at the Ramlila Maidan during the course of the hunger strike by Anna Hazare. These were issued just days after the government accepted some of the agitators’ demands in principle. Sensing the reaction from the public, Congress MP Pravin Aron withdrew the notices he had filed and said that he would persuade his colleagues to do so as well. Yet these actions have reignited a discussion about the need and relevance of “parliamentary privilege”.

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