SC stays Lok Sabha Privilege Committee’s probe against WB officials over breach of privilege complaint by BJP MP Sukanta Majumdar

Share on:

Today (February 19, 2024), the Supreme Court (SC) of India stayed the probe of the Lok Sabha Privilege Committee into a complaint filed by BJP MP Sukanta Majumdar over alleged mistreatment against him during his visit to SandeshKhali (protests) on February 13 and 14. The complaint was filed against the Chief Secretary, DGP, and other three officials of the State of West Bengal (WB). Following the BJP MP’s complaint of breach of privilege, the Lok Sabha Privilege Committee summoned WB top officers including Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika IAS (Chief Secretary of WB), Rajeev Kumar IPS (DGP of WB), Sharad Kumar Dwivedi IAS (District Magistrate, North 24 Parganas District), Dr. Hossain Mehedi Rehman IPS (Superintendent of Police, Basirhat, North 24 Parganas District), and Partha Ghosh (Additional SP, Basirhat, North 24 Parganas District). The Committee asked them to appear before the panel on 19 February 2024. 

The matter was mentioned today by the petitioners before the SC bench led by the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud for urgent listing. During the proceedings, Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and SA Kapil Sibal stated that the officials were asked to appear today before the committee at 10:30 AM. The lawyers contended that a curfew under Section 144 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) was imposed in the Sandekhali region and BJP MP Majumdar as well as other supporters of the BJP gathered. They added that the complaint of police atrocities by the BJP MP was false as videos ensured that the police officials were attacked by the party workers. Further, the petitioners also pointed out that the Parliamentary Privileges will not extend to political activities and the Lok Sabha Secretariat acted beyond its jurisdiction. 

During the hearing, SA Kapil Sibal submitted, “Privileges are available to a member only when he is obstructed while discharging his duties as a member of Parliament while he is attending the house. Privilege is not available when he is not performing any parliamentary duties. It is not available for political activity. You go there (Sandeshkhali), violate a 144 order and then you complain that it is a breach of privilege!” To this, SA Singhvi added “Privileges are meant to protect your work as a Parliamentarian. Otherwise, there will be a breach of privilege in every case, nobody can be arrested.” Further, CJI asked, “Breach of privileges is because they allege that the Member of Parliament got injured?” SA Singhvi replied, “Video shows that he jumps on the bonnet of a police car. His colleagues in the BJP pull him. He is taken to the hospital by the police.” Concluding the contentions, SA Sibal submitted, “In any case, privileges can’t be applicable to political activities”. 

Furthermore, the SA appearing for the Lok Sabha Secretariat, Devaish Bharukha submitted, “Once the Privileges Committee gets a notice, it calls people who might be relevant for the purpose of oral evidence. That is the first stage. This is the first sitting. This is a threshold stage.” After hearing the contentions and arguments, the SC bench ordered “There shall be a stay of further proceedings in pursuance of the Office Memoranda dated February 15, 2024…”