Centre for Communication Governance at NLU delhi
Relevant Cases: Indian & International

Robert W. Gauthier v. Canada, CCPR/C/65/D/633/1995 (Human Rights Committee) [Open Access]

This case was brought to the Human Rights Committee by the author, a Canadian citizen, who alleged that the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, by denying him membership to the Press Gallery in exercise of parliamentary privilege, had violated his right under Article 19 of the ICCPR. The Committee observed that in the absence of any recourse to the author against this decision, either to the courts or to Parliament, the restriction imposed on the author’s rights failed to satisfy the tests of necessity and proportionality under Article 19(3) of the ICCPR.

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Gunupati Keshavram Reddy v. Nafisul Hasan and the State of U.P., AIR 1954 SC 636 (Supreme Court of India) [Open Access]

In this case, the Supreme Court held that the arrest of a citizen under the speaker’s order for breach of privilege of Uttar Pradesh assembly without producing him before a magistrate as required by Article 22(2) of the Constitution was a violation of the fundamental right. This is illustrative of the proposition that that privilege under Article 105 or 19 cannot be higher than a fundamental right under Article 19 or 21.

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MSM Sharma v. Sri Krishna Sinha, AIR 1959 SC395 (Supreme Court of India) [Open Access]

The petitioner, the Editor of the English daily newspaper Searchlight of Patna, was called upon by the Secretary of the Patna Legislative Assembly to show cause before the Committee of Privileges of the Assembly why appropriate action should not be taken against him for the breach of privileges of the Speaker and the Assembly for publishing in its entirety a speech delivered in the Assembly by a member thereof, portions of which were directed to be expunged by the Speaker. Thus, the case involved a clash between Article 19(1)(a) and Article 194 of the Constitution of India. The court held that the principle of harmonious construction has to be applied for reconciling the differences between fundamental rights and legislative privileges and Article 194 being a special provision must take precedence over fundamental right mentioned in Article 19 which was a general provision”.

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In re, Keshav Singh’s Case (Special Reference No. 1 of 1964 under Article 143) AIR 1965 SC 745 (Supreme Court of India) [Open Access]

This case is illustrative of the tussle of power that can occur between the Parliament and the Legislature. In this case Keshav Singh was committed to prison for committing contempt of the Uttar Pradesh assembly. Thereafter a petition was filed in the high court by an advocate alleging that the detention of Keshav Singh was illegal. Two judges of the court subsequently released Keshav Singh on bail. The Uttar Pradesh assembly then took the unprecedented step of issuing summons to the judges and the advocate who argued the case for committing contempt of the house and also ordered that Keshav Singh be immediately taken into custody. The two judges and the advocate then filed petitions before a full bench of Allahabad High Court, which ordered by notice restraining the speaker of assembly from issuing a warrant against them. When the incidents reached this stage, the president made a reference under Article 143 to the Supreme Court. The apex court upheld the verdict of the high court and held that the “judge who entertains a petition challenging any order of the legislature imposing any penalty on the petitioner for its contempt…does not commit contempt of the said legislature and the legislature is not competent to initiate proceedings against that judge”.

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