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This article titled ‘Case Analysis on Tej Kiran Jain And Others v. N. Sanjiva Reddy And Others, 1970’ is written by Siya Jindal and presents an analysis of the given case.
This is one of the landmark cases of Indian history that analyses the provision of parliamentary privileges given in the Indian constitution. This case also deals with the appellate power of the supreme court and also clarifies the duty of the appellants regarding the notice of appeal and explains how it is different from the notice of summons.
Citation: 1970 AIR 1573, 1971 SCR (1) 612
Judges: HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ), SHAH, J.C. HEGDE, K.S. GROVER, A.N.RAY, A.N. DUA, I.D.
The appellants filed a suit against Shri Sanjiva Reddy (former Speaker of the Lok Sabha), Shri Y. B. Chavan (Home Minister) and three members of Parliament asking for a compensation of Rs. 26000, claiming that during the calling attention motion of the Lok Sabha, they made Defamatory statements against Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Gover- dan Peeth, Puri.
The motion was to discuss the behaviour of The Shankaracharya at The World Hindu Religious conference held in Patna. He was reported to have remarked that Untouchability was in harmony with the tenets of Hinduism and added that no law could come in its way, he was also believed to have walked out while the National Anthem played at the event.
The appellants contended that the respondents “gave themselves up to the use of language which was more commonplace than serious, more lax than dignified, more unparliamentary than sober and jokes and puns were bandied around the playful spree, and His Holiness Jagadguru Shankracharya Ananta Shri Vibushit Swami Shri Niranjan Deva Teertha of Goverdhan Peeth, Puri, was made to appear as a leperous (Sic) dog”.
The case was first introduced before the High Court but was decided by the Supreme court by the exercise of appellate jurisdiction.
Whether the claim of the appellants is maintainable considering the nature and circumstances of the case and the allied constitutional provisions.
The case was originally filed before the High court, but it dismissed the suit on the ground that it could not be entertained in the court following the provision of Article 105(2) which says that “No member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof, and no person shall be so liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper, votes or proceedings”1 and hence rejected the complaint.
But at the same time, The High Court certified the case to be presented before the Supreme Court under Article 133(1)(a)2 of the constitution which says that “1) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court certifies under Article 134A
(a) that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance”
The notice of lodgement of appeal was given to the respondents but they chose not to appear before the court.
The attorney(Mr. Lekhi) of the appellants based his arguments on the grounds that in a previous judgement the court analysed Article 2123 and remarked that the said article gave immunity against the irregularity of procedure, not its illegality.
Mr Lekhi contended that a similar approach must be applied in the present case to determine whether what was said by the ministers was within or outside the proceedings of the calling motion of the parliament while applying Art. 105 of the constitution, as according to him immunity under this article was only towards the proceedings relevant to the business of the parliament.
The Supreme Court in its judgement elucidated that the meaning of Art. 105 as explained in the constitution is pretty clear. It uses the word ‘anything’ which refers to everything, further ‘in Parliament’ refers to during the sitting of the parliament when the proceedings are in course. And in the present case, the parliament was in sitting and its business was being transacted when the ministers made those comments. So, following Art. 105 of the constitution, the courts have no say in the matter.
Hence, the decision under the appeal was held to be correct and the appeal was dismissed.
To make other things clear too, the court elaborated that, after getting the certificate from the High court to make an appeal to the Supreme Court, the appellants have to provide a notice of appeal to the respondents so that they can make the necessary arrangements, only after the notice is given, the appeal is heard before the court.
The court also clarified that such intimation to the respondents by the way of notice does not mean they have to appear in court, it is solely based on their own discretion. It is only when the court serves the summons, that one has to appear before the court or suffer the consequences.
VI. Critical Analysis
The decision taken by the court was absolutely correct considering the clear provisions of Art. 105 of the constitution which directly states that anything said or any vote given in the parliament, when its proceedings are going on is given immunity from any kind of legal proceedings in respect of such acts done.
And although it has not been expressly mentioned, the freedom of speech granted under this article would extend to other acts done in connection with the proceedings of the two houses of the parliament such as notices of motions, questions, reports of the committee, or the resolutions.4
The rationale behind this provision of the constitution is to give the members of parliament the freedom to speak and work according to their will while the parliament’s business is being transacted without any fear of any legal suit being initiated against them, or any other legal consequences arising out of such expression of mind.
Had the appeal been allowed in this case, it would have discredited the entire meaning that Art. 105 holds and would have brought the judgement under some major scrutiny.
Though one should always remember that the members of parliament should observe a certain level of discipline according to the rules of the parliament during the proceedings and maintain the sanctity and the high value that the Indian parliament holds.
1. INDIA CONST., art. 105, cl.
2. INDIA CONST., art. 133, cl. 1, sub cl. a
3. INDIA CONST., art. 212
4. MAHENDRA PAL SINGH, CONSTITUTION OF INDIA 474 (13TH ED. 2017)
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