national herald: No immunity from arrest in criminal cases during House session: Venkaiah Naidu

Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday that Members of Parliament are not immune from criminal proceedings, including arrest, whether the House is in session or not. Privileges of an MP are no different from a common man in criminal matters, Naidu observed, after Congress MPs raised the issue of summons issued by the Directorate of Enforcement to Leader of the Opposition and Mallikarjun Kharge during Thursday’s sitting.

“There is a wrong notion among the members that they have a privilege from action by agencies while the session is on,” Naidu said in the house.

Under Article 105 of the Constitution, MPs enjoy certain privileges to perform their parliamentary duties without hindrance.

“One of the privileges is that an MP cannot be arrested in a civil case 40 days before the commencement of the session or committee meeting and 40 days thereafter. However, in criminal matters, MPs are not on a different footing than a common citizen. It means that an MP does not enjoy any immunity from being arrested in a criminal case during the Session or otherwise,” he observed.

Earlier too, Naidu said he had made an observation that no member should avoid appearing before any investigating agency – when she or he is called upon to do so – by citing house duty as the reason.

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha debated on a private members’ Bill, The Right to Healthcare 2021, introduced by RJD MP Manoj Jha last Friday.

Several opposition members demanded during the discussion that the government should increase spending on healthcare.

Replying to the Bill, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the government aims to increase the health expenditure from 1.9% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 2.5% in the coming years.

Mandaviya also informed the house that the government – under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – has initiated the establishment of 150,000 health and wellness centers across the country to provide critical healthcare, of which more than 120,000 centers had been constructed already.

Earlier, when the upper house reassembled for the afternoon session, as many as 17 private members’ Bills were introduced.

The Uniform Civil Code in India Bill, 2020 piloted by BJP MP Kirodi Lal Meena was not introduced as the member was absent.

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