[Sansad TV] Perspective: Rules of Parliamentary Conduct



  • Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar has asked the committee of Privileges to investigate an alleged breach of privilege by some MPs under rule 203 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.
  • The MPs are accused of shouting slogans and obstructing proceedings in the Upper House Rajya Sabha.
  • The committee will also investigate alleged breach of privilege arising from non-adherence to the Chair’s directions.

In this article, we will discuss and understand various aspects of the rules of procedure and conduct in Parliament.

Rules of Conduct

  • The Committee on Ethics of Rajya Sabha drafted the Code of Conduct for MPs, which was adopted by the House in 2005.
  • These rules are prescribed by the House for its members and adopted by the House.
  • These are self-governing rules of conduct.
  • The rule book also provides the Chairman/Speaker of the House with certain powers to ensure that there is an orderly conduct of business proceedings.

Quick backgrounder

  • Codes of conduct for high constitutional functionaries and representatives of the people have been discussed for long.
  • A code for Union ministers was adopted in 1964, and state governments were advised to adopt it as well.

Provisions for such rules

  • Article 118: The Indian Constitution empowers each House of Parliament to make rules governing its procedure and conduct of Business, Article 118 (1).
  • Article 105: It deals with “powers, privileges, immunity etc. of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees thereof. There is freedom of speech for the members of the parliament and they are exempted from any legal action for any statement made or act done in the course of their duties.
  • Handbook: There is a handbook for members of the parliament which has a number of rules regarding etiquette, conventions and conduct of members. There are dozens of such rules which are strict and meant to govern the dignified conduct of the members in the House.

Key issue: Disruptions in Indian Parliament

There have been continuous disruptions of parliament by members.

  • Some members are habitual of disrupting the functioning and jumping in the well for political gains and rivalry.
  • Disruptions, sloganeering and moving in the well decreases the productivity of the House.
  • Frequent disruptions lead to adjournment of the House.

Why are disruptions so frequent?

There are various reasons for disruptions in the Indian Parliament, including:

  • Political differences: Opposition parties often use disruptions as a tactic to voice their opposition to government policies or to press their demands. Similarly, ruling party MPs may also disrupt proceedings to counter opposition criticism.
  • Controversial issues: Discussions on certain issues, such as religion, caste, and regionalism, can lead to heated debates and disruptions in Parliament.
  • Personal or party agendas: MPs may resort to disruptions to further their personal or party agendas or to gain media attention.
  • Lack of decorum: Sometimes, MPs may engage in unruly behavior, including shouting, throwing papers, and obstructing the Chair, leading to disruptions in the House.
  • Parliamentary procedures: Disputes over parliamentary procedures and rules can also lead to disruptions and adjournments.

Significance of Parliamentary discussions

  • Policymaking: Parliament is responsible for enacting laws and policies that affect the lives of citizens. Through discussions and debates, MPs can shape these policies to better meet the needs of their constituents.
  • Checks and balances: Parliament plays a crucial role in overseeing the functioning of the executive branch of government. Through discussions, MPs can hold the government accountable for its actions and decisions.
  • Representation of the larger population: Parliament provides a platform for MPs to represent the views and concerns of their constituents. By raising issues and concerns, MPs can ensure that the government addresses the needs of the people they represent.
  • Education of citizens: Parliamentary discussions can educate citizens on important issues, policies, and legislative processes. This can help citizens make informed decisions and participate in the democratic process.
  • Constructive criticism: Discussions and debates in Parliament can help resolve conflicts and differences of opinion among MPs. This can lead to better decision-making and policy outcomes.

Reasons for such behaviour

  • Reduced number of sittings of legislatures
  • Poor quality of debates
  • Avoidance of accountability by the ruling govt.
  • Increasing number of legislatures with criminal records
  • High absenteeism of legislators
  • Inadequate representation of women
  • Lack of inner democracy in the functioning of the political parties

Watchdog of Parliamentary dignity: Privileges Committee

  • It is a parliamentary committee present in both Houses of the parliament.
  • Its functions are semi-judicial in nature.
  • Its function is to examine every question involving breach of privilege of the House or of the members of any Committee thereof referred to it by the House.
  • Under rule 203, Chairman can refer any question of privilege to the Committee.

Way forward

Former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu introduced a 15-point reform charter for parliamentary reforms to enable effective functioning of parliamentary institutions. The charter includes-

  • Political Conscience: Call for a new political consciousness amongst legislators to review their roles and responsibilities.
  • Ensuring Quorum: Political parties must ensure attendance of at least 50% of their legislators throughout the proceedings of the Houses by adopting a roster system.
  • Liberalizing whip system: Review of Whip system which hinders the freedom of expression of the legislators. This will allow a reasonable degree of dissent without impacting the stability of the government.
  • Effective functioning of Department Related Standing Committees: Measures for effective functioning of these Committees like longer tenure (instead of the present one year), promoting specialization, etc were needed.
  • Legislative Impact Assessment: A detailed framework for pre and post Legislative Impact Assessment was needed. Every legislative proposal must incorporate a detailed account of social, economic, environmental and administrative impact for wider awareness and subsequent legal assessment.
  • Responsible government and opposition: Need for responsive governments positively acting on the concerns of the opposition and the need for responsible and constructive opposition while resorting to available parliamentary instruments.
  • More women legislators: Enacting for reservation of women in legislatures. It helps maintain decency and modesty of the House of parliament.
  • Rules and Regulations: Making rules that automatically take action against erring members in case of interruptions and disruptions. Need for timely and effective action against legislators for non-ethical conduct.
  • Transparency & Accountability: Regular publication of reports by the Secretariats of Legislatures on the attendance of Members and their participation in debates.
  • Decriminalization of Politics: Addressing the concern of a rising number of legislators with criminal records.
  • Increased number of sittings: A minimum number of sittings for both the Houses of Parliament and State Legislatures per year need to be appropriately prescribed.


  • There must be strict adherence to the code of conduct for MPs so that disruptions of the proceedings don’t happen.
  • It is important to spend more time on deliberations and discussion rather than on disruptions to increase the productivity of the House.
  • Government and opposition must come to an understanding and move forward for the betterment of the nation. The government must be responsive and for that the opposition has to be responsible.
  • Certain reforms are needed to increase efficiency of the House and ensure that the members attend the house to contribute to the discussions instead of hijacking the functioning of the House with repeated disruptions.

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