Privilege Motion

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    • Congress chief whip in the Rajya Sabha moved a privilege motion against Culture Minister over the appointment of former MP as the chairperson of the National Monuments Authority (NMA).

    What is the Issue?

    • The educational and professional background of the current chairperson of NMA does not meet the requirements of the law passed by Parliament in March 2010.
    • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 says that the Chairperson of the NMA should have “proven experience and expertise in the field of archaeology, country and town planning, architecture, heritage, conservation architecture or law.”

    What is Privilege Motion?

    • All Members of Parliament (MPs) enjoy rights and immunities, individually and collectively, so that they can discharge their duties and functions effectively. 
    • Any instance when these rights and immunities are disregarded by any member of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha is an offence, called ‘breach of privilege’, which is punishable under the Laws of Parliament.
    • Article 105 of the Constitution expressly mentions two privileges, that is, freedom of speech in Parliament and right of publication of its proceedings.
    • Apart from the privileges as specified in the Constitution, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provides for freedom from arrest and detention of members under civil process during the continuance of the meeting of the House or of a committee thereof and forty days before its commencement and forty days after its conclusion.
    • Applicability:
      • The Constitution also extends the parliamentary privileges to those persons who are entitled to speak and take part in the proceedings of a House of Parliament or any of its committees. These include the Attorney General of India.
      • The parliamentary privileges do not extend to the President who is also an integral part of the Parliament. Article 361 of the Constitution provides for privileges for the President.
    • Role of the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairperson:
      • The speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha are the first levels of scrutiny of a privilege motion in the two Houses of Parliament. They can either take a decision on the privilege motion or can also refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament. 
      • Once the Speaker or the House Chairperson gives consent under Rule 222, the concerned member is allowed to explain himself or herself.
    • Rules Governing Privilege:
      • Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook governs privilege.
      • Rules say that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or a committee thereof.
    • Privilege Committee;
      • The Speaker of Lok Sabha nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members of parliament from each party. 
        • While the Rajya Sabha committee has 10 members.
      • The report prepared by the committee is submitted to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may also allow a half-hour debate on the report by the committee before passing orders or directing that the report be tabled before the House.

    National Monuments Authority (NMA)

    • About:
      • It is set up under the Ministry of Culture as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act (AMASR) which was enacted in March 2010.
    • Functions: 
      • Several functions have been assigned to the NMA for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated areas around the centrally protected monuments.
      • NMA also considers grant of permissions to applicants for construction-related activity in the prohibited and regulated areas.
    • Appointment of the Chairman: 
      • The chairperson of the NMA should have “proven experience and expertise in the field of archaeology, country and town planning, architecture, heritage, conservation architecture or law”.

    Source: TH