Rahul Gandhi in cross hairs: Rule using which he can face Lok Sabha suspension
As BJP demands Rahul Gandhi's suspension from Lok Sabha for his UK speech, let's understand what rules say.
The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has upped the ante in its bid to get Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to apologise for his remarks in the UK on Indian democracy. The party has recently sought the Wayanad MP's suspension from the Lok Sabha citing the matter is ‘beyond privilege’.
“Anything related to the nation is a matter of concern for all. We do not care what’s happening to the Congress or its leadership. But if he insults the nation, we cannot keep quiet,” Union law minister Kiren Rijiju said earlier.
Also read: ‘Anti-India forces’ speak same language, Rijiju slams Rahul Gandhi
Similarly, Union minister Nishikant Dubey wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla under Rule 223 of Rules of Proceduce and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and demanded special parliamentary committee to probe into Gandhi's ‘contemptuous’ remarks and consider expelling him from the House.
Rule 223 discusses about the question of (parliamentary) privilege. Dubey argued before the Priveleges Committee that the Congress MP violated three privileges during the speech at the motion of gratitude to the President’s address.
What is parliamentary privilege?
Article 105 of the Indian Constitution defines a set of special rights, exemptions and immunities, known as parliamentary privileges, that are enjoyed by both Houses of the Parliament, committees and their members. This provision exempts parliamentarians from civil liability, that are not criminal in nature, through any statement or act during their tenure.
Four major privileges enjoyed by parliamentarians are freedom of speech in Parliament, freedom from arrest, right to prohibit the publication of proceedings and right to exclude strangers (who are not members of the House).
The punishment for any parliamentarian found to have committed a breach of privilege can range between a warning and imprisonment, depending upon its severity.
What is Rule 223?
This rule allows a member to raise a question, with the Speaker's consent (under Rule 222), in the Parliament on the matter of breach of privilege committed by a member or a committee. Upon deliberation on the matter, the Speaker may refer the case to a Committee of Privileges (constituted by the Speaker) for further investigation and report.
Can Rahul Gandhi be expelled?
In the past, then Rajya Sabha member Subramaniam Swamy was expelled from the House in 1976 for certain remarks he made about India in the UK, US and Canada.
Union minister Dubey also alleged Rahul Gandhi of breaking Rule 352 by making remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament without prior notice. Union minister Rijiju alleged Rahul Gandhi of ‘lying’ in London and that he ‘insulted’ the country and ‘given more fodder to the anti-India forces’. These claims may subject to Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that defines sedition.