Privileges of a State Legislatures | Indian Constitution Download PDF
The privileges of the Legislature of a State are similar to those of the Union Parliament inasmuch as the constitutional provisions [Arts. 105 and 194] are identical. The question of the privileges of a State Legislature. State Legislature has been brought to the notice of the public, particularly in relation to the power of the Legislature to punish for contempt and the jurisdiction of the Courts in respect thereof. Though all aspects of this question have not yet been settled, the following propositions may be formulated from the decisions of the Supreme Court:
(a) Each House of the State Legislature has the power to punish for breach of its privileges or for contempt.
(b) Each House is the sole judge of the question whether any of its privileges has, in particular case, been infringed, and the Courts have no jurisdiction to interfere with the decision of the House on this point.
The Court cannot interfere with any action taken for contempt unless the Legislature or its duly authorised officer is seeking to assert a privilege not known to the law of Parliament; or the notice issued or the action taken was without jurisdiction.
(c) No House of the Legislature has, however, the power to create for itself any new privilege not known to the law and the Courts possess the power to determine whether the House in fact possesses a particular privilege.
(d) It is also competent for a High Court to entertain a petition for habeas corpus under Art. 226 or for the Supreme Court, under Art. 32, challenging the legality of a sentence imposed by a Legislature for contempt on the ground that it has violated a fundamental right of the petitioner and to release the prisoner on bail, pending disposal of that petition.
(e) But once a privilege is held to exist, it is for the House to judge the occasion and its manner of exercise. The Court cannot interfere with an erroneous decision by the House or its Speaker in respect of a breach of its privilege.