The Constitution of India confers to all the members and committees of the Houses of Parliament with powers, privileges and immunities under Article 105 which provides the right to freedom of speech along with discharging them from other liabilities as mentioned thereof. These are also subjected to the Speaker or Chairman being empowered to punish for its contempt arising from the breach of such privilege. However, since these powers are not codified and may be enacted as defined by the Parliament from time to time, many issues in relation to ambiguities as to what amounts to contempt arises along with whether the Speaker or Chairman exercises arbitrary powers thereby violating the fundamental rights conferred under Part III of the Constitution of India.
In this paper, firstly the author will distinguish the major differences that exist between the Indian and British Constitution owing to the non-codification of privileges. Secondly, the role played by the judiciary in dealing with matters arising out of contempt in the Parliament with a special reference to certain landmark judgements that were passed by the Supreme Court in MSM Sharma v Sri Krishna Sinha and Gunnapati Keshavram Reddy v Nafisul Hasan and State of UP while analysing the extent to which such a punishment may be exercised for contempt without violation of the fundamental rights mentioned under Article 19(a) and Article 21 in particular. Thirdly, the author will also observe the changes required in the system in order to dissuade the lack of lucidity that exists in the scope of the power to punish for contempt by providing clarity on the extent of powers of the Legislature and Judiciary.