SC on powers of Lokayukta.


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
The three judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India, P.Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh quashed the 'breach of privilege' notices issued by Madhya Pradesh Assembly Secretariat to the Lokayukta for breach of privilege for summoning its Secretary for probe on a complaint of corruption. The judgment cleared the question of immunity and expanded the scope of investigative powers conferred upon the Lokayukta by inclusion of staff of Speaker and Deputy Speaker within its purview. Highlights of the judgment: The officers working under the office of the Speaker are also public servants within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the Lokayukt Act and within the meaning of Section 2 (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and, therefore, the Lokayukt and his officers are entitled and duty bound to make inquiry and investigation into the allegations made in any complaint filed before them. It is made clear that privileges are available only insofar as they are necessary in order that House may freely perform its functions. For the application of laws, particularly, the provisions of the Lokayukt Act, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the jurisdiction of the Lokayukt or the Madhya Pradesh Special Police Establishment is for all public servants (except the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha for the purposes of the Lokayukt Act) and no privilege is available to the officials and, in any case, they cannot claim any privilege more than an ordinary citizen to whom the provisions of the said Acts apply. Privileges do not extend to the activities undertaken outside the House on which the legislative provisions would apply without any differentiation. In the present case, the action taken by the petitioners is within the powers conferred under the above statutes and, therefore, the action taken by the petitioners is legal. Further, initiation of action for which the petitioners are legally empowered, cannot constitute breach of any privilege.

Citation :
The Bengal Immunity Company Limited vs. The State of Bihar and Others, [1955] 2 SCR 603 East India Commercial Co., Ltd., Calcutta and Another vs. The Collector of Customs, Calcutta, [1963] 3 SCR 338 Raja Ram Pal vs. Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha and Others, (2007) 3 SCC 184 A. Kunjan Nadar vs. The State, AIR 1955 Travancore-Cochin 154

        REPORTABLE

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 613 OF 2007

Justice Ripusudan Dayal (Retd.) & Ors.      .... Petitioner (s)

Versus

State of M.P. & Ors.                                    .... Respondent(s)

     

J U D G M E N T

P.Sathasivam, CJI.

1) The  present  writ  petition,  under  Article  32  of  the 

Constitution  of  India,  has  been  filed  by  the  petitioners 

challenging the validity of certain letters issued by Mr. Qazi 

Aqlimuddin  –  Secretary,  Vidhan  Sabha  (Respondent  No.4 

herein) on various dates against them with regard to a case 

registered by the Special  Police Establishment (SPE) of the 

Lokayukt  Organisation,  against  the officials  of  the Vidhan 

Sabha Secretariat as well as against the concerned officials 

of  the  Capital  Project  Administration-the  Contractor 

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Company  alleging  irregularity  in  the  construction  work 

carried out in the premises of Vidhan Sabha.  

2) It is relevant to mention that Petitioner No.1 herein was 

the  Lokayukt  of  the  State  of  Madhya  Pradesh  appointed 

under the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukt Evam 

Uplokayukt  Act,  1981  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  “the 

Lokayukt  Act”).   Petitioner  No.2 was  the Legal  Advisor,  a 

member  of  the Madhya Pradesh Higher  Judicial  Service on 

deputation with the Lokayukt and Petitioner Nos. 3 to 5 were 

the officers of Madhya Pradesh Special Police Establishment. 

3) The  petitioners  herein  claimed  that  the  said  letters 

violate their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 

of the Constitution of India and are contrary to Article 194(3) 

and prayed for the issuance of a writ, order or direction(s) 

quashing the said letters as well  as the complaints filed by 

Respondent Nos. 5, 6 (since expired), 7, 8 and 9 herein.

4) Brief facts

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(a) An anonymous complaint was received on 21.06.2005 

in the office of the Lokayukt stating that a road connecting 

the  Vidhan  Sabha  with  Vallabh  Bhawan,  involving  an 

expenditure of  about  Rs.  2 crores,  was being constructed 

without inviting tenders and complying with the prescribed 

procedure.    It was also averred in the said complaint that 

with a view to regularize the above-said works, the officers 

misused their official position and got the work sanctioned to 

the Capital  Project  Administration in violation of  the rules 

which amounts to serious financial irregularity and misuse of 

office.   It was also mentioned in the said complaint that in 

order to construct the said road, one hundred trees had been 

cut down without getting the permission from the concerned 

department.    The said complaint  was  registered as  E.R. 

No.127 of 2005.  During the inquiry, the Deputy Secretary, 

Housing  and  Environment  Department,  vide  letter  dated 

18.08.2005 stated that  the work had been allotted to the 

lowest tenderer and the trees were cut only after obtaining 

the requisite permission from the Municipal Corporation.  In 

view of the said reply, the matter was closed on 22.08.2005. 

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(b) On 22.12.2006, again a complaint was filed by one Shri 

P.N. Tiwari, supported with affidavit and various documents, 

alleging the same irregularities in the said construction work 

by the officers of the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat in collusion 

with the Capital Project Administration which got registered 

as E.R.  No.  122 of 2006. A copy of the said complaint was 

sent  to  the  Principal  Secretary,  Madhya  Pradesh 

Government,  Housing  and  Environment  Department  for 

comments.   In  reply,  the  Additional  Secretary,  M.P. 

Government,  Housing  and  Environment  Department 

submitted  the  comments  along  with  certain  documents 

stating that  the Building Controller  Division working under 

the  Capital  Project  Administration  was  transferred  to  the 

administrative control  of the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat vide 

Order  dated 17.07.2000 and consequently the Secretariat 

Vidhan  Sabha  was  solely  responsible  for  the construction 

and maintenance work within the Vidhan Sabha premises.  

(c) On 26.06.2007, a request  was made to  the Principal 

Secretary,  Housing and Environment Department to submit 

all  the  relevant  records,  tender  documents,  note  sheets, 

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administrative,  technical  and  budgetary  sanctions  by 

10.10.2007.   By  letter  dated  17.07.2007,  the  Under 

Secretary of  the said Department  informed that  since the 

administrative  sanctions  were  issued  by  the  Secretariat 

Vidhan Sabha,  the materials were not available with them. 

In  view  of  the  said  reply,  the  Lokayukt-(Petitioner  No.1 

herein)  sent  letters  dated  31.07.2007  addressed  to  the 

Principal  Secretary,  Housing and Environment  Department, 

Administrator, Capital Project Administration and the Deputy 

Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha Secretariat  to appear  before him 

along  with  all  the  relevant  records  on  10.08.2007.   On 

10.08.2007,  the  Principal  Secretary,  Housing  and 

Environment  appeared  before  the  Lokayukt  and  informed 

that  since  the  Controller  Buildings  of  Capital  Project 

Administration was working under the administrative control 

of  the  Vidhan  Sabha  Secretariat  since  2000,  all 

sanctions/approvals and records relating to construction and 

maintenance  work  were  available  in  the  Vidhan  Sabha 

Secretariat.   In  view  of  the  above  reply,  the  Lokayukt 

summoned the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, Vidhan 

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Sabha,  Respondent  Nos.  10  and  11  respectively  on 

24.08.2007 to give evidence and produce all  records/note-

sheets  of  administrative  and  technical  sanctions  and 

budgetary  and  tender  approvals  relating  to  construction 

works  carried  out  in  MLA  Rest  House  and  Vidhan  Sabha 

Premises in the year 2005-2006.  

(d) The  Secretary,  Vidhan  Sabha,  Respondent  No.  10 

herein,  in his deposition dated 24.08.2007, admitted giving 

of administrative approval  to the estimated cost which was 

available with the office of the Lokayukta and stated that the 

relevant  note-sheet  was  in the possession of  the Hon’ble 

Speaker, therefore, he prayed for time to produce the same 

by 07.09.2007.  

(e) Vide  letter  dated  07.09.2007,  Respondent  No.10 

conveyed his inability to produce the same.  After receiving 

information  from  the  Chief  Engineer,  Public  Works 

Department,  Capital  Project,  Controller  Buildings,  Vidhan 

Sabha,  Capital  Project  Administration  and  Chief  Engineer, 

Public  Works  Department  vide  letters  dated  11.09.2007, 

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13.09.2007 and 18.09.2007 respectively, the Legal Advisor –

Petitioner No. 2 herein – a member of the M.P. Higher Judicial 

Service thoroughly examined the same and found that it is a 

fit case to be sent to the SPE for taking action in accordance 

with law.   Petitioner  No.1 was in agreement  with the said 

opinion.   Thereafter,  Crime Case No.  33/07 was registered 

against  the  Secretary,  Vidhan  Sabha  (Respondent  No.10 

herein), Shri A.P. Singh, Deputy Secretary, Vidhan Sabha, the 

then Administrator, Superintendent Engineer, Capital Project 

Administration and Contractors on 06.10.2007.   

(f) After registration of the case,  Petitioner No.1 received 

the  impugned  letters  dated  15.10.2007  and  18.10.2007 

alleging breach of privilege under Procedures and Conduct of 

Business Rules 164 of  the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha 

against  him  and  the  officers  of  the  Special  Police 

Establishment.  In response to the aforesaid letters, by letter 

dated  23.10.2007,  the  Secretary,  Lokayukt  explained  the 

factual position of Petitioner No.1 herein stating that no case 

of  breach of  privilege was made out  and also pointed out 

that  neither  any complaint  had been received against  the 

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Hon’ble  Speaker  nor  any  inquiry  was  conducted  by  the 

Lokayukt Organization against him nor his name was found 

in the FIR.  

(g) On  26.10.2007,  the  Secretary,  Vidhan  Sabha  – 

Respondent No.4 sent six letters stating that the reply dated 

23.10.2007  is  not  acceptable  and  that  individual  replies 

should be sent by each of the petitioners.  

(h) Being  aggrieved  by  the  initiation  of  action  by  the 

Hon’ble Speaker for breach of privilege, the petitioners have 

preferred this writ petition.

5) Heard Mr.  K.K.  Venugopal,  learned senior  counsel  for 

the writ petitioners, Mr. Mishra Saurabh, learned counsel for 

the  State-Respondent  No.  1  and  Mr.  C.D.  Singh,  learned 

counsel for the Secretary, Vidhan Sabha-Respondent No.4.

Contentions:

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6) Mr.  K.K.  Venugopal,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the 

petitioners raised the following contentions:-

(i)  Whether the Legislative Assembly or its Members enjoy 

any privilege in respect of an inquiry or an investigation into 

a criminal  offence punishable under  any law for  the time 

being  in  force,  even  when  inquiry  or  investigation  was 

initiated in performance of duty enjoined by law enacted by 

the  very  Legislative  Assembly  of  which  the  breach  of 

privilege is alleged?

(ii) Whether officials of the Legislative Assembly also enjoy 

the same privileges which are available to Assembly and its 

Members?

(iii) Whether seeking mere information or calling the officials 

of Vidhan Sabha Secretariat for providing information during 

inquiry or investigation amounts to breach of privilege?

(iv)  In  view of  the  letter  dated  23.08.2007,  sent  by  the 

Principal  Secretary  to  Respondent  Nos.  10  and  11,  i.e., 

Secretary and Deputy Secretary, Vidhan Sabha respectively 

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directing them to appear  before the Lokayukt (as per  the 

order of the Speaker), whether Respondent Nos. 10 and 11 

can have any grievance that  information was sought  from 

them without sanction and knowledge of the Speaker? 

7) On behalf of the respondents, particularly, Respondent 

No.4-Secretary,  Vidhan  Sabha,  Mr.  C.D.  Singh,  at  the 

foremost submitted that the present petition under Article 32 

of the Constitution of India invoking writ jurisdiction of this 

Court  is  not  maintainable as  no fundamental  right  of  the 

petitioners, as envisaged in Part III  of the Constitution,  has 

been violated by any of the actions of Respondent No. 4.  It 

is their stand that every action pertaining to the Assembly 

and its administration is within the domain and jurisdiction of 

the Hon’ble Speaker.   The matter  of  privilege is governed 

under the rules as contained in Chapter XXI of the Rules of 

Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh 

Vidhan Sabha.   Hence,  it is stated that the writ petition is 

liable to be dismissed both on the ground of maintainability 

as well as on merits.    

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8) Before  considering  rival  contentions  and  the  legal 

position, it is useful to recapitulate the factual details and 

relevant statutory provisions which are as under:-

The  legislature  of  the  Central  Province  and  Berar 

enacted  the  Central  Provinces  and  Berar  Special  Police 

Establishment Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the SPE 

Act’).   Under  the  said  Act,  a  Special  Police  Force  was 

constituted  which  has  power  to  investigate  the  offences 

notified by the State Government under Section 3 of the said 

Act, which reads as under:-

“3.  Offences  to be  investigated  by  Special  Police

Establishment:-  The  State  Government  may,  by

notifications,  specify  the  offences  or  classes  of  offences

which are to be investigated by (Madhya Pradesh) Special

Police Establishment.”

9) On  16.09.1981,  Legislative Assembly  of  the  State  of 

Madhya Pradesh enacted the Lokayukt Act with the following 

objective as has been stated in the preamble of  the said 

Act:-

“An  Act  to  make  provision  for  the  appointment  and

functions  of  certain  authorities  for  the  enquiry  into  the

allegation  against  “Public  Servants”  and  for  matters

connected there with.”

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Section  2(a)  of  the  Lokayukt  Act  defines  “officer”  in  the 

following manner:-

“officer” means a person appointed to a public service or

post in connection with the affairs of the State of Madhya

Pradesh.”

Section 2(b) defines “allegation” as follows:-

“allegation”  in  relation  to  a  public  servant  means  any

affirmation that such public servant,

(i) has abused his position as such to obtain any gain or

favour to himself or to any other person or to cause undue

harm to any person;

(ii) was actuated in the discharge of his functions as such

public servant by improper or corrupt motives;

(iii) is guilty of corruption; or

(iv)  is  in possession  of  pecuniary  resources  or  property 

disproportionate to his known sources of income and such

pecuniary  resources  or  property  is  held  by  the  public

servant personally or by any member of  his family or by

some other person on his behalf.

Explanation:- For the purpose of this sub-clause “family”

means husband, wife, sons and unmarried daughters living

jointly with him;”

The phrase “Public Servant” has been defined under Section 

2(g) of the Lokayukt Act in the following terms:

“Public Servant” means a person falling under any of the

following categories, namely:-

(i) Minister;

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(ii)  a person having the rank of  a Minister  but shall  not

include  Speaker  and  Deputy  Speaker  of  the  Madhya

Pradesh Vidhan Sabha;

(iii) an officer referred to in clause (a);

(iv) an officer of an Apex Society or Central Society within 

the meaning of Clause (t-1) read with Clauses (a-1), (c-1)

and (z) of  Section 2 of  the Madhya Pradesh Co-operative

Societies Act, 1960 (No. 17 of 1961).

(v) Any person holding any office in, or any employee of (i)

 a Government  Company within the  meaning of 

Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956; or

(ii)  a Corporation or  Local  Authority  established by 

State  Government  under  a  Central  or  State

enactment.

(vi)  (a)  Up-Kulpati,  Adhyacharya and Kul  Sachiva of  the

Indira  Kala  Sangit  Vishwavidyalaya  constituted  under

Section 3 of  the Indira Kala Sangit  Vishwavidyalaya Act,

1956 (No. 19 of 1956);

(b)  Kulpati  and Registrar  of  the Jawahar  Lal  Nehru Krishi

Vishwavidyalaya  constituted  under  Section  3  of  the

Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya Act, 1963 (No. 12

of 1963);

Kulpati  Rector  and  Registrar  of  the  Vishwavidyalay

constituted  under  Section  5  of  the  Madhya  Pradesh

Vishwavidyalay Adhiniyam, 1973 (No. 22 of 1973).”

10)  Thus,  all  persons,  except  those  specifically  excluded 

under  the said definition,  come within the domain of  the 

Lokayukt  Act  and  the  Lokayukt  can,  therefore,  entertain 

complaints  and  take  actions  in  accordance  with  the  said 

provisions.  Section 7 of the said Act thereafter defines the 

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role of  the Lokayukt and the Up-Lokayukt in the following 

terms:-

“7. Matters which may be enquired into by Lokayukt

or Up-Lokayukt:-

Subject to the provision of this Act, on receiving complaint

or other information:-

(i) the Lokayukt may proceed to enquire into an allegation

made against  a  public  servant  in relation  to  whom the

Chief Minister is the competent authority.

(ii)  the  Up-Lokayukt  may  proceed  to  enquire  into  an

allegation  made  against  any  public  servant  other  than

referred to in clause (i)

Provided that the Lokayukt may enquire into an allegation

made against any public servant referred to in clause (ii).

Explanation:- For  the  purpose  of  this  Section,  the

expression “may proceed to enquire”, and “may enquire”,

include investigation by Police agency put at the disposal

of Lokayukt and Up-Lokayukt in pursuance of sub-Section

(3) of Section 13.

11) On  14.09.2000,  the  State  Government  issued  a 

notification in exercise of powers under Section 3 of the SPE 

Act  by  which  the  Special  Police  Establishment  was 

empowered  to  investigate  offences  with  regard  to  the 

following offences:-

(a) Offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption

Act, 1988 (No. 49 of 1988);

(b) Offences under Sections 409 and 420 and Chapter XVIII

of  the Indian Penal  Code,  1860 (No.  XLV of  1860)  when

they  are  committed,  attempted  or  abused  by  public 

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servants or employees of  a local  authority or a statutory

corporation,  when  such  offences  adversely  affect  the

interests of the State Government or the local authority or

the statutory corporation, as the case may be;

(c) Conspiracies in respect of offences mentioned in item

(a) and (b) above; and

(d) Conspiracies in respect of offences mentioned in item

(a) and (b) shall be charged with simultaneously in one trial

under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (No.

2 of 1974).

12) As per the provision of  Section 4 of  the SPE Act,  the 

superintendence of  investigation by the M.P.  Special  Police 

Establishment was vested in the Lokayukt appointed under 

the Lokayukt Act. 

13) On 22.12.2006, a complaint was received from one Shri 

P.N.  Tiwari  supported by  affidavit  and various  documents 

making allegations that  works had been carried out  in the 

new Assembly building by the Capital Project Administration 

in gross  violation of  the rules,  without  making budgetary 

provisions and committing financial  irregularities.   The said 

complaint was registered as E.R.  122 of 2006.  In the said 

complaint, it was mentioned that:

(a) An order had been issued to the Administrator, Capital 

Project  Administration  by  Shri  A.P.  Singh,  Deputy 

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Secretary, Vidhan Sabha giving administrative approval 

for  the  estimate  of  the  cost  of  construction  against 

rules  and  without  making  budgetary  provision  vide 

order  dated  19.10.2005  in  respect  of  the  following 

works:

S.No. Name of works Amount in

lakhs

(i) Construction of  30 rooms in MLA Rest

House Block-2

(ii) Construction of  toilets  in Block 1-3 of

MLA Rest House

(iii) Construction  of  shops  in  MLA  Rest

House premises

(iv) Up-gradation/construction of road from

Mazar  to Gate No.  5 of  Vidhan Sabha

(Old Jail)

(a) Construction of road from Mazar to

Rotary

(b) Construction of road from Rotary to

Jail Road

(v) Construction of lounge for the Speaker

and Officers in Vidhan Sabha Hall

(vi) Construction  of  new  reception  zone

(including  parking/road)  for  Vidhan

Sabha

(vii) Upgradation work of campus lights and

electric  work  in  MLA  Rest  House

premises

(viii) Construction  of  road  from  Vidhan

Sabha  to  Secretariat  (including

development of helipad and connected

area)  and  proposed  upgradation  and

development  work  of  M.P.

Pool/spraypond:

(a) Construction of  new road from the

VIP  entrance  upto  the  proposed  new

gate

(b)  Construction of  road from present

Char Diwari to Rotary

Rs. 5.51

Rs. 25.48

Rs. 5.98

Rs. 22.52

Rs. 13.23

Rs. 6.80

Rs. 54.00

Rs. 26.60

Rs. 10.85

Rs. 21.56

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(c) Construction of road from Rotary to

Secretariat

Rs. 12.00

Total sanctioned amount Rs. 204.53

(b) the  officers  had abused their  powers  by  getting the 

works carried out without making budgetary provisions 

and  without  getting  approval  from  the  Finance 

Department  in respect of  the works specified at  item 

numbers (iv), (vi), (vii) and (viii) above.

(c) Following financial irregularities were also pointed out:

(i) Though administrative approval  was accorded by 

Shri  A.P.  Singh,  Deputy Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha 

on 19.10.2005, works had already been executed 

and inaugurated in the presence of the then Chief 

Minister,  Shri  Babulal  Gaur  and  the  Speaker, 

Vidhan Sabha and other Ministers on 03.08.2005. 

The proper procedure is to first invite tenders and 

it  is  only  after  the  acceptance  of  the  suitable 

tenders that work orders are to be issued.

(ii) Budgetary head of the Vidhan Sabha is 1555.  This 

head is meant  for  maintenance and not  for  new 

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construction,  but  the  administrative  approval 

dated 19.10.2005 was accorded by Shri A.P. Singh, 

Deputy Secretary, Vidhan Sabha in respect of new 

works of total value of Rs. 160.76 lakh.

(iii) Works of the value of Rs. 160.76 lakh were carried 

out  without  any  budgetary  provision  and  also 

without the approval  of  the Finance Department. 

Furthermore,  a  proposal  had  been  sent  by  the 

Capital  Project  Administration  for  sanction  of 

budget  but  the same  was  not  approved by  the 

Finance Department.   Even then the works were 

got executed.

(iv) As  per  the  approval  dated  19.10.2005, 

expenditure  was  to  be  incurred  from the  main 

budgetary head 2217 which is the head of Urban 

Development.   From  that  head,  construction 

activities in the Vidhan Sabha premises could not 

be carried out.

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(v) The  Controller  Buildings,  Capital  Project  (Vidhan 

Sabha)  executed the works in collusion with the 

other officers and in violation of the rules.  It was 

stated that the officials had abused their powers to 

regularize their irregular activities.  The works had 

been undertaken for the personal benefit of some 

officers and payments were made in violation of 

the rules.

14) By letter  dated 04.01.2007, a copy of  the complaint 

was  sent  to  the  Principal  Secretary,  Madhya  Pradesh 

Government,  Housing and Environment  Department  calling 

factual  comments along with the relevant documents.  The 

comments were submitted by the Additional Secretary, M.P. 

Government,  Housing  and  Environment  Department  vide 

letter dated 15.05.2007.  The comments,  inter alia,  stated 

that  the Building Controller  Division functioning under  the 

Capital  Project  Administration  was  transferred  to  the 

administrative control  of the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat vide 

order  dated  17.07.2000,  consequently,  Secretariat  Vidhan 

Sabha  is  solely  responsible  for  the  construction  and 

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Page 19

maintenance works within the Vidhan Sabha premises.   On 

examination  of  the  comments  received  along  with  the 

supporting  documents,  following  discrepancies  were 

revealed:

(a) Whereas  the comments  stated that  budget  provision 

had been made for an amount of Rs.204.53 lakh for the 

purpose of special repairs and maintenance of old and 

new Vidhan Sabha and MLA Rest House under Demand 

No. 21, main head 2217, sub main head 01, minor head 

001, development head 1555 (3207), no amounts were 

specified  under  those  heads,  sub  heads  and  minor 

heads which were related to new construction works;

(b) Whereas  the  comments  stated  that  work  had  been 

executed through tenders,  but  tender documents had 

not been annexed.

(c) Whereas the comments stated that approval in respect 

of  nine works had been accorded by the Secretariat, 

Vidhan Sabha on the request of the Controller Buildings 

on 21.03.2005, however, it is not clear from the letter 

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Page 20

dated  21.03.2005  that  administrative  approval  had 

been accorded; and

(d) Whereas the comments stated that amended sanction 

was  granted vide  order  dated 19.10.2005,  while  the 

letter dated 19.10.2005 does not indicate that it was an 

amended administrative sanction.

15) In view of the above preliminary observations, as noted 

above,  a  request  was  made  to  the  Principal  Secretary, 

Housing and Environment Department to submit all relevant 

records,  tender  documents,  note-sheets,  administrative, 

technical  and budgetary sanctions by 10.07.2007.  It  was 

again  informed  by  the  Under  Secretary,  Housing  and 

Environment Department, vide letter dated 17.07.2007 that 

since  the  administrative  sanctions  were  issued  by  the 

Secretariat  Vidhan Sabha,  the note-sheets/records relating 

to such sanctions were not available with the Housing and 

Environment Department.

16) In view of the reply submitted by the Under Secretary, 

Housing and Environment Department, the Petitioner sent a 

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letter dated 31.07.2007 addressed to the Principal Secretary, 

Housing  and  Environment  Department,  Administrator, 

Capital  Project  Administration  and  the  Deputy  Secretary, 

Vidhan  Sabha  Secretariat  to  appear  before  the  Lokayukt 

along with all relevant information/records on 10.08.2007.

17) On the date fixed for appearance, i.e., 10.08.2007, the 

Principal  Secretary,  Housing  and  Environment  appeared 

before the Lokayukt.  He informed that since the Controller 

Buildings  of  Capital  Project  Administration  was  working 

under  the  administrative  control  of  the  Vidhan  Sabha 

Secretariat since the year 2000, all sanctions/approvals and 

records  regarding  construction  and  maintenance  works 

carried out in MLA Rest House and Vidhan Sabha premises 

were  available  in  the  Vidhan  Sabha  Secretariat.   On 

receiving such information,  the Principal  Secretary,  Vidhan 

Sabha  Secretariat,  informed  that  the  records  relating  to 

construction works were not with him and that such type of 

work  was  looked  after  by  the  Secretary  and  the  Deputy 

Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha.   In this situation,  Secretary and 

Deputy Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha Secretariat  and Controller 

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Buildings, Vidhan Sabha, Capital Project Administration were 

summoned to give evidence and produce all  records/note-

sheets  of  administrative  and  technical  sanctions  and 

budgetary  and  tender  approvals  relating  to  construction 

works  carried  out  in  MLA  Rest  House  and  Vidhan  Sabha 

premises  in the year  2005-06 on 24.08.2007.   Summons 

were issued as per  the provisions of  Section 11(1) of  the 

Lokayukt Act, read with Sections 61 and 244 of the Code of 

Criminal  Procedure,  1973.  Summons were received by the 

Deputy Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha,  Shri  G.K.  Rajpal  and the 

Controller Buildings, Shri Devendra Tiwari.  Process Server of 

the Lokayukt Organisation tried to serve summons on Shri 

Israni  in his  office.   Process  Server  contacted Shri  Harish 

Kumar  Shrivas,  P.A.  to  Shri  Israni.   The  P.A.  took  the 

summons to Shri  Israni.   After coming back, he asked the 

Process Server to wait till 4.00 p.m.  Later, the P.A. told the 

Process Server to take permission of the Hon’ble Speaker to 

effect service of the summons on the Secretary.   As such, 

summons could not be served on Shri Israni.

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18) Thereafter,  D.O.  letter dated 14.08.2007 was received 

from the Principal  Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha stating that  as 

per the direction of the Hon’ble Speaker,  he was informing 

the Lokayukt Organization that:

(a) The Vidhan Sabha Secretariat was not aware as to the 

complaint which was being inquired into;

(b) All  proceedings  relating  to  invitation  of  tenders, 

technical sanction, work orders and payment etc. were 

conducted  through  the  Controller  Buildings,  Capital 

Project  Administration and,  therefore,  all  the records 

relating to these works should be available with them;

(c) If, a copy of the complaint, which is being inquired into, 

is made available to the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat,  it 

would  be  possible  to  make  the  position  more  clear. 

That was the reason why the Speaker had not granted 

permission to the Deputy  Secretary to appear  in the 

Office of the Lokayukt; and

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Page 24

(d) Under the provisions of Section 2(g)(ii) of the Lokayukt 

Act, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the Leader of 

Opposition are exempted from the jurisdiction of  the 

Lokayukt.

19)  Shri  Israni  appeared  before  the  Lokayukt  on 

24.08.2007  when  his  deposition  was  recorded.   In  his 

deposition, he stated that the administrative approval to the 

estimated  cost  dated  19.10.2005  was  given,  which  was 

available with the office of the Lokayukt.  He further stated 

that note-sheet relating to administrative approval had been 

prepared  which  was  in  possession  of  the  Speaker. 

Accordingly,  he  was  required  to  produce  the  same  by 

07.09.2007.

20) Information  was  called  for  from the  Chief  Engineer, 

Public  Works  Department,  Capital  Project  Administration, 

Controller  Buildings,  Vidhan  Sabha,  Capital  Project 

Administration  and  Chief  Engineer,  Public  Works 

Department.   The  same  was  received  vide  letters  dated 

11.09.2007, 13.09.2007 and 18.09.2007 respectively.

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Page 25

21) Scrutiny note was prepared by the Legal Advisor, Mrs. 

Vibhawari  Joshi,  a member  of  the Madhya Pradesh Higher 

Judicial Service, on deputation to the Lokayukt Organization, 

with the assistance of the Technical Cell, with the approval 

of the Lokayukt.  After examination of the information and 

records received from the various authorities concerned, she 

prima facie found established that:

(a) contracts  in  respect  of  construction  of  roads  and 

reception plaza and renovation of  toilets were awarded at 

rates higher than the prevailing rates;

(b) works  were  got  executed even  when  there  were  no 

budgetary provisions.  Demand for budget was made from 

the  Finance  Department  but  the  same  had  not  been 

accepted;

(c) new construction works of the value of Rs. 173.54 lakh 

were got executed from the maintenance head,  which was 

not  permissible,  since the maintenance head is meant  for 

maintenance works and not for new works;

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Page 26

(d) for  new construction works of  the value of  Rs.173.54 

lakh,  administrative  approval  and  technical  sanction  had 

been accorded by the authorities, who were not competent 

to do so;

(e) works  of  Rs.205.61  lakh  were  got  executed  without 

obtaining administrative approval and technical sanction;

(f) records show that  measurements  of  WBM work were 

recorded  after  the  Bitumen  work  (tarring)  had  been 

completed.  Proper procedure is that first the measurements 

of  WBM  work  are  recorded,  thereafter  Bitumen  work  is 

executed and it is only thereafter measurements of Bitumen 

work  are  recorded.   Discrepancies  in  the  recording  of 

measurements create doubt;

(g) Rules provide that in the Notice Inviting Tenders (NIT), 

schedule of quantities is annexed so that the tenderers may 

make  proper  assessment  while  quoting  rates,  but  in  the 

present case,  in the NIT for roads in Schedule-I,  quantities 

were not specified.  So, it was difficult for the tenderers to 

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Page 27

make proper assessment  while quoting rates.  This throws 

doubt on the legitimacy of the process.

(h) (i) Road was to be constructed within the diameter of 

300 meters.  For this small area, work was split up into 

five portions and four contractors were engaged.  Rules 

provide  that  for  one  road,  there  should  be  one 

estimate,  one technical  sanction and one NIT.   In the 

present  case,  five  estimates  were  prepared,  five 

technical  sanctions  were  granted,  five  tenders  were 

invited and four contractors were engaged.  This throws 

doubt on the legitimacy of the process;

(ii) There  are  three  processes  involved  in  the 

construction  of  roads,  i.e.,  WBM,  Bitumen  and 

thermoplastic.  As per the rules and practice, for all the 

three processes, there should be one tender, but in the 

present case, the work was split up into three portions 

inasmuch work of  WBM was given to two contractors, 

work of Bitumen to one other and work of thermoplastic 

to still another;

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(iii) Cement concrete road was constructed for a small 

part of the same road.  For this small part of the road 

another  separate  NIT  was  invited  and  work  was 

awarded  to  a  separate  contractor,  i.e.,  the  fifth 

contractor;

(i) The  Secretary  and  the  Deputy  Secretary  of  Vidhan 

Sabha  Secretariat  and  Administrator,  Superintending 

Engineer  and  Controller  Buildings  of  Capital  Project 

Administration in collusion with the contractors, in order to 

give undue benefits to them by abusing their official position 

caused  loss  of  Rs.12,62,016/-  to  Rs.20,71,978/-  to  the 

Government.

In  view of  the  above,  the  Legal  Advisor  (Petitioner  No.2 

herein) recorded her opinion that it is a fit case to be sent to 

the  SPE  for  taking  action  in  accordance  with  law.   The 

Lokayukt Petitioner No. 1 agreed with the note of the Legal  

Advisor and observed that  it  is a fit  case to be dealt  with 

further by the SPE.   The case was accordingly sent to the 

SPE.

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22) The SPE,  thereafter,  registered Crime Case No.  33/07 

on 06.10.2007 against Shri  Bhagwan Dev Israni,  Secretary 

Vidhan  Sabha,  Shri  A.P.  Singh,  Deputy  Secretary  Vidhan 

Sabha,  the  then  Administrator,  Superintending  Engineer, 

Capital  Project Administration and Contractors.  Soon after 

the registration of the criminal case, the petitioners received 

the impugned notices dated 15.10.2007 wherein allegations 

of  breach of  privilege were made against  the petitioners. 

The petitioners understood that  the said letters had been 

issued on the basis of some complaints by the Members of 

Legislative  Assembly.   The  petitioners  received  further 

notices for breach of privilege on the basis of the complaint 

made by Shri Gajraj Singh, MLA.

23) In response to the aforesaid letters, the Secretary of the 

Lokayukt Organization, on the direction of the Petitioner No. 

1 sent a letter dated 23.10.2007, to Respondent No. 4-Shri 

Qazi  Aqlimuddin,  Secretary,  Vidhan Sabha giving in details 

about  the constitutional,  legal  and factual  position stating 

that no case of privilege was made out.  It was also pointed 

out  that  neither  any complaint  had been received against 

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the  Speaker,  Respondent  No.  1  nor  any  inquiry  was 

conducted by the Lokayukt Organization against him nor was 

he named in the FIR.

24) Respondent  No.  4,  i.e.,  Secretary,  Vidhan  Sabha, 

thereafter  sent  six  letters  dated  26.10.2007  to  the 

petitioners.   By  the  said  letters,  the  petitioners  were 

informed  that  the  reply  dated  23.10.2007  had  not  been 

accepted and it was directed that individual  replies should 

be sent by each of the petitioners.  Being aggrieved by the 

initiation of  action by the Speaker  for  breach of  privilege 

against  the  petitioners,  as  noted  above,  the  petitioners 

herein filed the present writ petition.

Maintainability of the writ petition under Article 32 of

the Constitution:

25) Mr.  C.D.  Singh,  learned  counsel  appearing  for 

Respondent  No.4,  by  drawing  our  attention  to  the  relief 

prayed for and of the fact that quashing relates to letters on 

various dates wherein after pointing out the notice of breach 

of privilege received from the members of Madhya Pradesh 

Assembly sought  comments/opinion within seven days  for 

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consideration  of  the  Hon’ble  Speaker,  submitted that  the 

proper  course would be to submit  their  response and writ 

petition under Article 32 of  the Constitution of  India is not 

maintainable. 

26) Mr.  Venugopal,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the 

petitioners  submitted  that  as  the  impugned  proceedings 

which are mere letters calling for response as they relate to 

breach  of  privilege,  amount  to  violation  of  rights  under 

Article  21  of  the  Constitution,  hence,  the  present  writ 

petition is maintainable.  In support of his claim, he referred 

to various decisions of this Court. 

27) There is no dispute that all the impugned proceedings 

or  notices/letters/complaints made by various members of 

the  Madhya  Pradesh  Assembly  claimed  that  the  writ 

petitioners violated the privilege of the House.  Ultimately, if 

their  replies  are  not  acceptable,  the  petitioners  have  no 

other  remedy  except  to  face  the  consequence,  namely, 

action under Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Procedure and 

Conduct of Business Rules, 1964.  If any decision is taken by 

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the  House,  the  petitioners  may  not  be  in  a  position  to 

challenge the same effectively before the court of law.   In 

The Bengal Immunity Company Limited vs.  The State 

of  Bihar  and Others,  [1955] 2 SCR 603, seven Hon’ble 

Judges of this Court accepted similar writ petition.  The said 

case arose against the judgment of the High Court of Patna 

dated 04.12.1952 whereby it dismissed the application made 

by  the  appellant-Company  under  Article  226  of  the 

Constitution  praying  for  an  appropriate  writ  or  order 

quashing the proceedings issued by the opposite parties for 

the  purpose  of  levying  and  realising  a  tax  which  is  not 

lawfully leviable on the petitioners and for  other  ancillary 

reliefs.  As in the case on hand,  it has been argued before 

the seven-Judge Bench that the application was premature, 

for there has, so far, been no investigation or finding on facts 

and no assessment under Section 13 of the Act.  Rejecting 

the said contention, this Court held thus:

“….  In the first  place,  it  ignores  the plain fact  that  this

notice, calling upon the appellant company to forthwith get

itself registered as a dealer, and to submit a return and to

deposit  the  tax  in  a  treasury  in  Bihar,  places  upon  it

considerable hardship,  harassment  and liability  which,  if 

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the  Act  is  void  under  article  265  read  with  article  286

constitute,  in  presenti,  an  encroachment  on  and  an

infringement  of  its  right which entitles it  to immediately

appeal  to the appropriate Court  for  redress.   In the next

place,  as  was  said  by  this  Court  in  Commissioner  of

Police,  Bombay vs.  Gordhandas Bhanji,  [1952]  3 SCR

135  when  an order  or  notice  emanates  from the  State

Government or  any of  its responsible officers directing a

person to do something, then, although the order or notice

may eventually transpire to be ultra vires and bad in law, it

is obviously one which prima facie compels obedience as a

matter  of  prudence and precaution.   It  is,  therefore,  not

reasonable to expect the person served with such an order

or notice to ignore it on the ground that it is illegal, for he

can only do so at his own risk and that a person placed in

such a situation has the right to be told definitely by the

proper  legal  authority exactly where he stands and what

he may or may not do.    

Another  plea advanced by the respondent  State  is

that  the  appellant  company  is  not  entitled  to  take

proceedings  praying  for  the  issue  of  prerogative  writs

under  article 226 as it  has adequate alternative remedy

under the impugned Act by way of appeal or revision.  The

answer to this plea is short and simple.  The remedy under

the  Act  cannot  be  said to  be adequate  and is,  indeed,

nugatory  or  useless  if  the  Act  which  provides  for  such

remedy is itself ultra vires and void and the principle relied

upon can,  therefore,  have no application where a party

comes to Court with an allegation that his right has been or

is being threatened to be infringed by a law which is ultra

vires the powers of the legislature which enacted it and as

such void and prays  for  appropriate  relief  under  article

226.   As said by this Court in Himmatlal Harilal Mehta

vs.  The State of Madhya Pradesh (supra) this plea of

the State stands negatived by the decision of this Court in

The State of Bombay vs.  The United Motors (India)

Ltd.  (supra).   We  are,  therefore,  of  the  opinion,  for

reasons stated above, that the High Court was not right in

holding  that  the  petition  under  article  226  was

misconceived or was not  maintainable.   It  will,  therefore,

have to be examined and decided on merits…. ….” 

28) In  East India Commercial  Co.,  Ltd.,  Calcutta and 

Another vs.  The Collector of Customs, Calcutta, [1963] 

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3 SCR 338, which is a three-Judge Bench decision, this Court 

negatived similar objection as pointed out in our case by the 

State.   In that  case,  the appellants-East  India Commercial 

Co. Ltd., Calcutta had brought into India from U.S.A. a large 

quantity  of  electrical  instruments  under  a  licence.   The 

respondent,  Collector  of  Customs,  Calcutta,  started 

proceedings for  confiscation of  these goods under  Section 

167(8) of the Sea Customs Act, 1878.  The appellants mainly 

contended  that  the  proceedings  are  entirely  without 

jurisdiction as the Collector can confiscate only when there is 

an  import  in  contravention  of  an  order  prohibiting  or 

restricting it and in that case the Collector was proceeding to 

confiscate  on  the  ground  that  a  condition  of  the  licence 

under  which  the  goods  had  been  imported  had  been 

disobeyed.   The appellants,  therefore,  prayed for a writ  of 

prohibition directing the Collector to stop the proceedings. 

The objection of the other side was that the appellant had 

approached the High Court at the notice stage and the same 

cannot be considered under Article 226 of the Constitution. 

Rejecting the said contention, this Court held: 

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“…..The respondent proposed to take action under Section

167(8) of  the Sea Customs Act, read with Section 3(2) of

the Act.  It cannot be denied that the proceedings under

the said sections are quasi-judicial  in nature.   Whether a

statute provides for a notice or not, it is incumbent upon

the respondent to issue notice to the appellants disclosing

the circumstances under which proceedings are sought to

be initiated against them.  Any proceedings taken without

such  notice  would  be  against  the  principles  of  natural

justice.   In the present case,  in our view, the respondent

rightly  issued  such  a  notice  wherein  specific  acts

constituting contraventions of the provisions of the Acts for

which action was to be initiated were clearly mentioned.

Assuming that  a notice could be laconic,  in the present

case it was a speaking one clearly specifying the alleged

act of contravention.  If on a reading of the said notice, it is

manifest that on the assumption that the facts alleged or

allegations made therein were true, none of the conditions

laid down in the specified sections was contravened,  the

respondent  would  have  no  jurisdiction  to  initiate

proceedings pursuant to that notice.  To state it differently,

if on a true construction of the provisions of the said two

sections  the  respondent  has  no  jurisdiction  to  initiate

proceedings or make an inquiry under the said sections in

respect of certain acts alleged to have been done by the

appellants, the respondent can certainly be prohibited from

proceeding  with  the  same.   We,  therefore,  reject  this

preliminary contention.”

29) In  Kiran Bedi  & Ors. vs.  Committee of Inquiry & 

Anr. [1989] 1 SCR 20, which is also a three Judge Bench 

decision,  the  following  conclusion  in  the  penultimate 

paragraph is relevant:

“47 As regards points (v),  (vi) and (vii) suffice it to point

out that the petitioners have apart from filing special leave

petitions also filed writ petitions challenging the very same

orders  and  since  we  have  held  that  the  action  of  the

Committee in holding that the petitioners were not covered 

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by Section 8B of the Act and compelling them to enter the

witness box on the dates in question was discriminatory

and the orders directing complaint being filed against the

petitioners  were illegal,  it  is apparently a case involving

infringement of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.  In

such  a  situation  the  power  of  this  Court  to  pass  an

appropriate  order  in  exercise  of  its  jurisdiction  under

Articles 32 and 142 of the Constitution cannot be seriously

doubted particularly having regard to the special facts and

circumstances of this case.  On the orders directing filing of

complaints  being  held  to  be  invalid  the  consequential

complaints  and  the  proceedings  thereon  including  the

orders of  the Magistrate issuing summons cannot survive

and it is in this view of the matter that by our order dated

18

 August, 1988 we have quashed them.  As regards the

submission that it was not a fit case for interference either

under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution inasmuch

as  it  was  still  open  to  the  petitioners  to  prove  their

innocence before the Magistrate,  suffice it  to say that  in

the instant case if  the petitioners are compelled to face

prosecution in spite of the finding that the orders directing

complaint  to  be filed against  them were illegal  it  would

obviously cause prejudice to them.  Points (v), (vi) and (vii)

are decided accordingly.”

th

It is clear from the above decisions that if it is established 

that  the  proposed  actions  are  not  permissible  involving 

infringement of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution,  this 

Court  is well  within its power  to pass appropriate order in 

exercise of its jurisdiction under Articles 32 and 142 of the 

Constitution.   Further,  if  the petitioners  are compelled to 

face the privilege proceedings before the Vidhan Sabha,  it 

would cause prejudice to them.   Further,  if  the petitioners 

are compelled to face the privilege motion in spite of the fact 

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Page 37

that no proceeding was initiated against Hon’ble Speaker or 

Members of  the House but  only relating to the officers in 

respect of contractual  matters, if urgent intervention is not 

sought  for  by  exercising  extraordinary  jurisdiction, 

undoubtedly, it would cause prejudice to the petitioners.   

30) Accordingly, we reject the preliminary objection raised 

by  the  counsel  for  Respondent  No.4  and  hold  that  writ 

petition under Article 32 is maintainable. 

31) With  the above factual  background and the relevant 

statutory  provisions,  let  us  examine  the  rival 

submissions.

32) Now,  we  will  consider  the  contentions  raised by  Mr. 

Venugopal.   As  mentioned earlier,  Petitioner  No.  1 is  the 

Lokayukt appointed under  the provisions of  the Lokayukta 

Act exercising powers and functions as provided under the 

Act.  In the course of the performance of the said functions, 

the Lokayukt  Organization received a complaint  regarding 

certain irregularities in the award of  contracts.   Petitioner 

Nos. 1 and 2, therefore, conducted preliminary inquiry in the 

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Page 38

matter  and on finding that  a  prima facie case under  the 

Prevention of Corruption Act was made out, the matter was 

referred to the SPE established under the provisions of the 

M.P. Special Police Establishment Act, 1947 to be dealt with 

further,  and thereafter,  a case was registered by the said 

Establishment  under  the  provisions  of  the  Prevention  of 

Corruption Act, 1988.

33) Article 194(3) of the Constitution provides for privileges 

of the Legislative Assembly and its members which reads as 

under:

“194. Powers, privileges,  etc,  of  the  House  of

Legislatures  and of  the  members  and committees

thereof

(1) ***

(2) ***

(3) In  other  respects,  the  powers,  privileges  and 

immunities of a House of the Legislature of a State, and of

the  members  and  the committees of  a  House  of  such

Legislature,  shall  be  such  as  may  from time  to  time

be defined by the Legislature by law, and, until so defined,

shall  be  those  of  that  House and  of  its  members  and

committees immediately before the coming into force of

Section 26 of the Constitution forty fourth Amendment Act,

1978.”

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Page 39

34) Article 194 is similar to Article 105 of the Constitution, 

which  provides  for  the  privileges  of  Parliament  and  its 

Members.   The  said  Articles  provide  that  the  privileges 

enjoyed by the legislature shall be such as may from time to 

time be defined by the legislature by law.  It is relevant to 

mention  that  any  law  made  by  the  Parliament  or  the 

legislature is subject to the discipline contained in Part III of 

the Constitution.  The privileges have not been defined but 

the above Article provides that until the same are so defined 

(i.e. by the legislature by law), they shall be those which the 

House or its members and committees enjoyed immediately 

before the coming into force of Section 26 of the Constitution 

Forty-fourth Amendment Act, 1978.

35) As  per  Chapter  XI  of  the ‘Practice  and Procedure of 

Parliament’ (Fifth edition), by M.N. Kaul and S.L. Shakdher in 

interpreting parliamentary privileges at Page 211 observed:

“…regard must  be had to the general  principle that  the

privileges of Parliament are granted to members in order

that they may be able to perform their duties in Parliament

without  let  or  hindrance.   They  apply  to  individual

members only insofar as they are necessary in order that

the House may freely perform its functions.   They do not

discharge  the  member  from the  obligations  to  society 

40

Page 40

which apply to him as much and perhaps more closely in

that capacity, as they apply to other subjects.  Privileges of

Parliament  do  not  place  a  Member  of  parliament  on  a

footing different  from that  of  an ordinary  citizen in the

matter of the application of laws unless there are good and

sufficient reasons in the interest of Parliament itself to do

so.

 The  fundamental  principle  is  that  all  citizens,

including  members  of  Parliament,  have  to  be  treated

equally in the eye of  the law.  Unless so specified in the

Constitution or in any law, a member of Parliament cannot

claim any  privileges  higher  than  those  enjoyed  by  any

ordinary citizen in the matter of the application of law.”

36) It is clear that in the matter of the application of laws, 

particularly,  the  provisions  of  the  Lokayukt  Act  and  the 

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, insofar as the jurisdiction 

of  the  Lokayukt  or  the  Madhya  Pradesh  Special 

Establishment  is concerned,  all  public servants  except  the 

Speaker  and the Deputy  Speaker  of  the Madhya Pradesh 

Vidhan Sabha for the purposes of the Lokayukt Act fall in the 

same category and cannot claim any privilege more than an 

ordinary  citizen  to  whom the  provisions  of  the  said  Acts 

apply.   In  other  words,  the  privileges  are  available  only 

insofar as they are necessary in order that the House may 

freely  perform  its  functions  but  do  not  extend  to  the 

activities  undertaken  outside  the  House  on  which  the 

41

Page 41

legislative  provisions  would  apply  without  any 

differentiations.  In view of the above, we reject the contra 

argument made by Mr. C.D. Singh.

37) As rightly submitted by Mr.  K.K.  Venugopal,  in India, 

there  is  rule  of  law and  not  of  men  and,  thus,  there  is 

primacy of the laws enacted by the legislature which do not 

discriminate  between  persons  to  whom such  laws  would 

apply.  The laws would apply to all such persons unless the 

law itself makes an exception on a valid classification.   No 

individual can claim privilege against the application of laws 

and for liabilities fastened on commission of a prohibited Act.

38) In respect of the scope of the privileges enjoyed by the 

Members,  the then Speaker  Mavalankar,  while addressing 

the  conference  of  the  Presiding  Officers  at  Rajkot,  on 

03.01.1955, observed:

“The simply reply to this is that those privileges which are

extended  by  the  Constitution  to  the  legislature,  its

members, etc. are equated with the privileges of the House

of Commons in England.  It has to be noted here that the 

House  of  Commons  does  not  allow the  creation  of  any 

privileges; and only such privileges are recognized as have

existed by long time custom.”

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Page 42

39) The scope of the privileges enjoyed depends upon the 

need for privileges,  i.e.,  why they have been provided for. 

The basic premise for the privileges enjoyed by the members 

is to allow them to perform their functions as members and 

no  hindrance  is  caused  to  the  functioning  of  the  House. 

Committee of Privileges of the Tenth Lok Sabha,  noted the 

main  arguments  that  have  been  advanced  in  favour  of 

codification, some of which are as follows:

“(i) Parliamentary privileges are intended to be enjoyed

on behalf of the people, in their interests and not against

the people opposed to their interests;

*** *** ***

(iii) the concept  of  privileges for  any class of  people is 

anarchronistic  in a democratic  society  and,  therefore,  if

any, these privileges should be the barest minimum – only

those necessary for  functional  purposes – and invariably

defined in clear and precise terms;

(iv) sovereignty of Parliament has increasingly become a

myth and a fallacy for, sovereignty, if any, vests only in the

people  of  India  who exercise  it  at  the  time of  general 

elections to the Lok Sabha and to the State Assemblies;

(v) in a system wedded to  freedom and democracy –

rule of law, rights of the individual,  independent judiciary

and constitutional  government  –  it  is  only  fair  that  the

fundamental  rights  of  the  citizens  enshrined  in  the

Constitution should have primacy over  any privileges  or

special rights of any class of people, including the elected

legislators,  and that  all  such claims should be subject to

judicial  scrutiny, for situations may arise where the rights

of the people may have to be protected even against the 

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Page 43

Parliament or against captive or capricious parliamentary

majorities of the moment;

(vi) the Constitution specifically envisaged privileges of

the Houses of parliament and State Legislatures and their

members  and committees  being  defined by  law by  the

respective  legislatures  and  as  such  the  Constitutionmakers

 

definitely intended these privileges being subject

to  the fundamental  rights,  provisions of  the Constitution

and the jurisdiction of the courts;

*** *** ***

(viii) in  any  case,  there  is  no  question  of  any  fresh 

privileges  being  added  inasmuch  as  (a)  under  the

Constitution, even at  present, parliamentary privileges in

India continue in actual  practice to  be governed by the

precedents of  the House of Commons as they existed on

the day our Constitution came into force;  and (b)  in the

House of Commons itself, creation of new privileges is not

allowed.”

40) The Committee also noted the main arguments against 

codification.  Argument no. (vii) is as under:

“(vii) The  basic  law that  all  citizens  should  be  treated

equally before the law holds good in the case of members

of  Parliament  as  well.   They  have the  same rights  and

liberties  as  ordinary  citizens  except  when  they  perform

their duties in the Parliament.  The privileges, therefore, do

not,  in  any  way,  exempt  members  from their  normal

obligation to society  which apply to them as much and,

perhaps, more closely in that as they apply to others.”

41) It is clear that the basic concept is that the privileges 

are those rights without which the House cannot perform its 

legislative functions.  They do not exempt the Members from 

their obligations under any statute which continue to apply 

to them like any other  law applicable to ordinary citizens. 

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Page 44

Thus, enquiry or investigation into an allegation of corruption 

against some officers of the Legislative Assembly cannot be 

said  to  interfere  with  the  legislative  functions  of  the 

Assembly.   No  one  enjoys  any  privilege  against  criminal 

prosecution.

42) According to Erskine May, the privilege of freedom from 

arrest  has  never  been  allowed  to  interfere  with  the 

administration of  criminal  justice or  emergency legislation. 

Thus,  in any  case,  there cannot  be any  privilege against 

conduct of  investigation for a criminal  offence.   There is a 

provision that in case a member is arrested or detained, the 

House ought to be informed about the same.

43) With  regard  to  “Statutory  detention”,  it  has  been 

stated, thus:

“The detention of a member under Regulation 18B of the

Defence  (General),  Regulation  1939,  made  under  the

Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts 1939 and 1940,  led to

the  committee  of  privileges  being  directed  to  consider

whether such detention constituted a breach of Privilege of

the  House;  the  committee  reported  that  there  was  no

breach of  privilege  involved.   In the  case of  a member

deported from Northern Rhodesia for non-compliance with

an order  declaring  him to  be  prohibited  immigrant,  the

speaker held that there was no prima-facie case of breach

of privilege. 

45

Page 45

The detention of  members  in Ireland in 1918 and 1922

under the Defence of the Realm Regulations and the Civil

Authorities (Special Powers) Act, the speaker having been

informed by respectively the Chief  Secretary of  the Lord

Lieutenant  and  the  secretary  to  the  Northern  Ireland

Cabinet, was communicated by him to the House.”

44) The  committee  for  Privileges  of  the  Lords  has 

considered the effect of the powers of detention under the 

Mental  Health Act, 1983 on the privileges of freedom from 

arrest referred to in Standing Order No. 79 that ‘no Lord of 

Parliament  is  to  be  imprisoned  or  restrained  without 

sentence  or  order  of  the  House  unless  upon  a  criminal  

charge  or  refusing  to  give  security  for  the  peace’.   The 

Committee accepted the advice of  Lord Diplock and other 

Law Lords that  the provisions of  the statute would prevail 

against any existing privilege of Parliament or of peerage.

45) In  Raja Ram Pal vs.  Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha 

and Others, (2007) 3 SCC 184, this Court observed:

“71. In  U.P.  Assembly case (Special  Reference No.  1 of 

1964),  while  dealing  with  questions  relating  to  powers,

privileges and immunities of the State Legislatures, it was

observed as under: 

“70. … Parliamentary privilege, according to May, is the

sum  of  the  peculiar  rights  enjoyed  by  each  House

collectively as a constituent part  of  the High Court  of

Parliament, and by Members of each House individually,

without which they could not discharge their functions, 

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Page 46

and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or

individuals. Thus, privilege, though part of the law of the

land,  is  to  a  certain  extent  an  exemption  from the

ordinary law. The particular privileges of  the House of

Commons have been defined as

‘the sum of the fundamental rights of the House and

of its individual Members as against the prerogatives

of the Crown, the authority of the ordinary courts of

law and the special rights of the House of Lords’.

… …. The privileges of Parliament are rights which are

‘absolutely  necessary  for  the  due  execution  of  its

powers’.  They  are  enjoyed  by  individual  Members,

because the House cannot perform its functions without

unimpeded use of the services of its Members; and by

each House for the protection of  its Members and the

vindication  of  its  own  authority  and  dignity  (May’s

Parliamentary Practice, pp. 42-43).”

The  privilege  of  freedom from arrest  has  never  been

allowed to interfere with the administration of criminal justice

or emergency legislation.

87. In  U.P.  Assembly  case  (Special  Reference  No.  1 of 

1964) it was settled by this Court that a broad claim that

all  the powers enjoyed by the House of  Commons at the

commencement  of  the  Constitution  of  India  vest  in  an

Indian  Legislature  cannot  be  accepted  in  its  entirety

because there are some powers which cannot obviously be

so  claimed.  In  this  context,  the  following  observations

appearing at  SCR p.  448 of  the judgment should suffice:

(AIR p. 764, para 45)

“Take  the  privilege  of  freedom of  access  which  is

exercised by  the  House of  Commons  as  a  body  and

through its  Speaker  ‘to  have at  all  times the right to

petition,  counsel,  or  remonstrate  with  their  Sovereign

through  their  chosen  representative  and  have  a

favourable construction placed on his words was justly

regarded  by  the  Commons  as  fundamental  privilege’

[Sir Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, (16th Edn.), p.

86].  It is hardly necessary to point out that the House

cannot  claim this  privilege.  Similarly,  the  privilege  to

pass  acts  of  attainder  and  impeachments  cannot  be

claimed  by  the  House.  The  House  of  Commons  also

claims the privilege in regard to its  own Constitution. 

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Page 47

This privilege is expressed in three ways,  first  by the

order  of  new writs  to  fill  vacancies  that  arise in the

Commons in the course of  a Parliament; secondly,  by

the  trial  of  controverted  elections;  and  thirdly,  by

determining the qualifications of  its members in cases

of  doubt  (May’s  Parliamentary  Practice,  p.  175).  This

privilege again,  admittedly,  cannot  be claimed by the

House. Therefore, it would not be correct to say that all

powers  and  privileges  which  were  possessed  by  the

House of Commons at the relevant time can be claimed

by the House.”

195. The debate on the subject took the learned counsel

to the interpretation and exposition of law of Parliament as

is found in the maxim lex et consuetudo parliamenti as the

very existence of a parliamentary privilege is a substantive

issue of  parliamentary  law and not  a  question of  mere

procedure and practice.”

46) In  A.  Kunjan  Nadar vs.  The  State,  AIR  1955 

Travancore-Cochin 154, the High Court  while dealing with 

the  scope  of  privileges  under  Article  194(3)  of  the 

Constitution held as under:-

“(3)  Article 194(3)  deals with the powers,  privileges and

immunities of the Legislature and their members in Part A

states and Article 238 makes those powers, privileges and

immunities available to legislatures and its members in the

Part  B  states  as  well.   Article  194(3)  deals  with  the

privileges and immunities available to the petitioner  in a

matter like this and they are according to that clause “such

as may time to time be defined by the legislature by law”

and until  so defined,  those of  a member of  the House of

Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom at the

commencement of the constitution. 

(4)  As  stated  before,  there  is  no  statutory  provision

granting  the  privilege  or  immunity  invoked  by  the

petitioner and it is clear from May’s Parliamentary Practice 

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Page 48

15

 Edn. 1950, p. 78 that “the privilege from freedom from

arrest  is  not  claimed in respect  of  criminal  offences  or

statutory detention” and that the said freedom is limited to

civil clauses, and has not been allowed to interfere with the

administration of criminal justice or emergency legislation. 

th

Xxxx xxxx xxxx

(8) …… So long as the detention is legal – and in this case 

there is no dispute about its legality – the danger of  the

petitioner losing his seat or the certainty of losing his daily

allowance cannot  possibly form the foundation for  relief

against  the  normal  or  possible  consequences  of  such

detention.”

47) In  Dasaratha  Deb  case  (1952),  the  Committee  of 

Privileges-Parliament Secretariat Publication, July 1952, inter  

alia, held that the arrest of a Member of Parliament in the 

course of administration of criminal justice did not constitute 

a breach of privilege of the House. 

48) On 24.12.1969, a question of privilege was raised in the 

Lok Sabha regarding arrests of  some members while they 

were stated to be on their way to attend the House.   The 

Chair ruled that since the members were arrested under the 

provisions of the Indian Penal Code and had pleaded guilty, 

no question of privilege was involved.

49) In order to constitute a breach of privilege, however, a 

libel  upon  a  Member  of  Parliament  must  concern  his 

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Page 49

character  or  conduct  in his  capacity  as  a member  of  the 

House and must be “based on matters arising in the actual 

transaction of the business of the House.” Reflections upon 

members otherwise than in their  capacity as members do 

not, therefore, involve any breach of privilege or contempt of 

the House.  Similarly, speeches or writings containing vague 

charges against  members of  criticizing their  parliamentary 

conduct in a strong language,  particularly,  in the heat of a 

public  controversy,  without,  however,  imputing  any  mala 

fides were not treated by the House as a contempt or breach 

of privilege.  

50) Similarly, the privilege against assault or molestation is 

available to a member only when he is obstructed or in any 

way molested while discharging his duties as a Member of 

the  Parliament.   In cases  when members  were assaulted 

while they were not  performing any parliamentary duty it 

was  held that  no breach  of  privilege  or  contempt  of  the 

House had been committed.  

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Page 50

51) Successive  Speakers  have,  however,  held  that  an 

assault on or misbehaviour with a member unconnected with 

his parliamentary work or  mere discourtesy by the police 

officers  are not  matters  of  privilege and such  complaints 

should be referred by members to the Ministers directly. 

52) 45

th

 Report of the Committee of Privileges of the Rajya 

Sabha dated 30

th

 November, 2000 stated as under:

“6.   The issue for  examination before the Committee is

whether CRPF personnel posted at Raj Bhawan in Chennai

committed a breach of  privilege available to Members of

Parliament by preventing Shri  Muthu Mani  from meeting

the  Governor  in  connection  with  presentation  of  a

memorandum.

7. The Committee notes that privileges are available to

Member  of  Parliament  so  that  they  can  perform their

parliamentary duties without let or hindrance.  Shri Muthu

Mani  had  gone  to  the  residence  of  Governor  for

presentation of  a memorandum in connection with party

activities.   Before  Shri  Muthu  Mani  reached  there,  two

delegations  of  his  party  had been allowed to  meet  the

Governor.   It  appears  that  due  to  security  related

administrative reasons the entry of  another delegation of

which Shri Muthu Mani was a Member, was denied by the

Police  officers.   Since  Shri  Muthu  Mani  was  present  in

connection  with  the  programme  of  his  political  party,

apparently along with  other  party  workers,  it  cannot  be

said that  he was in any way performing a parliamentary

duty.  As such preventing his entry by lawful means cannot

be  deemed to  constitute  a  breach  of  his  parliamentary

privilege.”

53) Now,  with regard to the contention of  Mr.  Venugopal, 

viz.,  about the privileges available to the Assembly and its 

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Page 51

Members, in case of arrest of employees of the Legislature 

Secretariat within the precincts of the House, the Speaker of 

the Kerala Legislative Assembly, disallowing the question of 

privilege,  ruled that  the prohibition against  making arrest, 

without  obtaining the permission of  the Speaker,  from the 

precincts of the House is applicable only to the members of 

the Assembly.  He observed that it is not possible, nor is it 

desirable to extend this privilege to persons other than the 

members,  since  it  would  have  the  effect  of  putting 

unnecessary  restrictions  and  impediments  in  the  due 

process of law. 

54) The officers working under the office of the Speaker are 

also public servants within the meaning of  Section 2(g)  of 

the Lokayukt Act and within the meaning of Section 2 (c) of 

the Prevention of  Corruption Act, 1988 and,  therefore,  the 

Lokayukt  and his  officers  are entitled and duty  bound to 

make inquiry and investigation into the allegations made in 

any complaint filed before them. 

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55) The law applies equally and there is no privilege which 

prohibits action of registration of a case by an authority that 

has been empowered by the legislature to investigate the 

cases relating to corruption and bring the offenders to book. 

Simply because the officers happen to belong to the office of 

the  Hon’ble  Speaker  of  the  Legislative  Assembly,  the 

provisions  of  the  Lokayukt  Act  do  not  cease  to  apply  to 

them.   The  law  does  not  make  any  differentiation  and 

applies to all  with equal  vigour.   As such,  the initiation of 

action does not and cannot amount to a breach of privilege 

of  the  Legislative  Assembly,  which  has  itself  conferred 

powers in the form of a statute to eradicate the menace of 

corruption.  It is, thus, clear that, no privilege is available to 

the Legislative Assembly to give immunity to them against 

the operation of laws. 

56) In the present  matter,  the petitioners have not  made 

any  inquiry  even  against  the  members  of  the  Legislative 

Assembly  or  the  Speaker  or  about  their  conduct  and, 

therefore,  the complaints  made against  the petitioners by 

some  of  the  members  of  the  Legislative  Assembly  were 

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completely uncalled for,  illegal  and unconstitutional.   The 

Speaker has no jurisdiction to entertain any such complaint, 

which is not even maintainable. 

57) Thus, it is amply clear that the Assembly does not enjoy 

any  privilege  of  a  nature  that  may  have  the  effect  of 

restraining any inquiry or investigation against the Secretary 

or the Deputy Secretary of the Legislative Assembly. 

58) Thus,  from the above,  it  is clear  that  neither  did the 

House of Commons enjoy any privilege,  at the time of the 

commencement  of  the Constitution,  of  a nature that  may 

have the effect  of  restraining any inquiry or  investigation 

against  the  Secretary  or  the  Deputy  Secretary  of  the 

Legislative Assembly or for that matter against the member 

of  the Legislative Assembly or  a minister  in the executive 

government  nor  does  the  Parliament  or  the  Legislative 

Assembly  of  the  State  or  its  members.   The  laws  apply 

equally and there is no privilege which prohibits  action of 

registration  of  a  case  by  an  authority  which  has  been 

empowered  by  the  legislature  to  investigate  the  cases. 

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Simply  because  the  officers  belong  to  the  office  of  the 

Hon’ble Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the provisions 

of the Act do not cease to apply to them.  The law does not 

make any differentiation and applies to all with equal vigour. 

As such, the initiation of action does not and cannot amount 

to a breach of privilege of the Legislative Assembly,  which 

has  itself  conferred  powers  in  the  form of  a  Statute  to 

eradicate the menace of corruption. 

59) The  petitioners  cannot,  while  acting  under  the  said 

statute,  be  said to  have  lowered the  dignity  of  the  very 

Assembly  which  has  conferred  the  power  upon  the 

petitioners.  The authority to act has been conferred upon 

the petitioners under  the Act  by the Legislative Assembly 

itself  and,  therefore,  the  action  taken  by  the  petitioners 

under the said Act cannot constitute a breach of privilege of 

that Legislative Assembly. 

60) By carrying out investigation on a complaint received, 

the petitioners merely performed their  statutory duty and 

did not  in any way affect the privileges which were being 

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enjoyed by the Assembly and its members.  The action of the 

petitioners did not interfere in the working of the House and 

as such there are no grounds for  issuing a notice for  the 

breach of Privilege of the Legislative Assembly. 

61) Also, in terms of the provisions of Section 11(2) of the 

Lokayukt Act, any proceeding before the Lokayukt shall  be 

deemed to be a judicial  proceeding within the meaning of 

Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal  Code and as per 

Section 11(3), the Lokayukt is deemed to be a court within 

the  meaning  of  Contempt  of  Courts  Act,  1971.   The 

petitioners have merely made inquiry within the scope of the 

provisions of the Act and have not done anything against the 

Speaker personally.  The officers working under the office of 

the Speaker are also public servants within the meaning of 

Section 2(g) of the Lokayukt Act and, therefore, the Lokayukt 

and his officers were entitled and duty bound to carry out 

investigation and inquiry into the allegations made in the 

complaint  filed  before  them  and  merely  because  the 

petitioners, after scrutinizing the relevant records, found the 

allegations  prima  facie proved,  justifying  detailed 

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investigation by the Special  Police Establishment under the 

Prevention of  Corruption Act,  and the performance of  duty 

by the petitioners in no way affects  any of  the privileges 

even remotely enjoyed by the Assembly or its Members.   

62) In the present  matter,  the petitioners have not  made 

any inquiry against any member of the Legislative Assembly 

or  the Speaker  or  about  their  conduct  and,  therefore,  the 

complaints  made  against  the  petitioners  by  some  of  the 

members of Legislative Assembly were completely uncalled 

for, illegal and unconstitutional. 

63) Further,  the allegations  made in the complaint  show 

that while dealing with the first complaint (E.R. 127/05), the 

Lokayukt  found  that  there  was  no  material  to  proceed 

further and closed that matter since the allegations alleged 

were  not  established.   While  inquiring  into  the  second 

complaint  since  the  Lokayukt  found  that  the  allegations 

made in the complaint  were  prima facie proved,  SPE was 

directed to proceed further in accordance with law. 

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64) On behalf of the petitioners, it is pointed out that the 

facts  and circumstances  in the present  matter  show that 

complaints  have  been  filed  by  the  Members  not  in  their 

interest but for the benefit of the persons involved who all  

are public servants.  It is also pointed out that the action of 

breach  of  privilege  has  been  instituted  against  the 

petitioners since the officers, against whom the investigation 

has been launched, belong to the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat. 

65) We are of the view that the action being investigated 

by the petitioners has nothing to do with the proceedings of 

the House and as such the said action cannot constitute any 

breach of privilege of the House or its members.  

66) It is made clear that privileges are available only insofar 

as  they  are  necessary  in  order  that  House  may  freely 

perform  its  functions.   For  the  application  of  laws, 

particularly,  the  provisions  of  the  Lokayukt  Act,  and  the 

Prevention of  Corruption Act,  1988, the jurisdiction of  the 

Lokayukt  or  the  Madhya  Pradesh  Special  Police 

Establishment is for all public servants (except the Speaker 

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and  the  Deputy  Speaker  of  the  Madhya  Pradesh  Vidhan 

Sabha for the purposes of the Lokayukt Act) and no privilege 

is  available to  the officials  and,  in any case,  they cannot 

claim any privilege more than an ordinary citizen to whom 

the  provisions  of  the  said  Acts  apply.   Privileges  do  not 

extend to  the activities  undertaken outside the House on 

which  the  legislative  provisions  would  apply  without  any 

differentiation. 

67) In the present case, the action taken by the petitioners 

is within the powers conferred under the above statutes and, 

therefore,  the  action  taken  by  the  petitioners  is  legal. 

Further,  initiation  of  action  for  which  the  petitioners  are 

legally  empowered,  cannot  constitute  breach  of  any 

privilege. 

68) Under the provisions of Section 39(1)(iii) of the Code of 

Criminal Procedure, 1973, every person who is aware of the 

commission  of  an  offence  under  the  Prevention  of 

Corruption Act is duty bound to give an information available 

with him to the police.  In other words, every citizen who has 

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knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offence has a 

duty to lay information before the police and to cooperate 

with the investigating officer who is enjoined to collect the 

evidence.      

69) In the light of the above discussion and conclusion, the 

impugned letters/notices are quashed and the writ petition is 

allowed as prayed for.  No order as to costs.

NEW DELHI;

FEBRUARY 25, 2014.

……….…………………………CJI. 

                (P. SATHASIVAM)                                 

        ………….…………………………J. 

               (RANJAN GOGOI)                                  

………….…………………………J. 

               (SHIVA KIRTI SINGH)                                  

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Vineet Kumar
on 27 February 2014
Published in Criminal Law
Views : 1466

Tags :- sc powers lokayukta

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