Raja Ram Pal vs The Hon'ble Speaker, Lok Sabha - Supreme Court Case

 Raja Ram Pal vs The Hon'ble Speaker, Lok Sabha - Supreme Court Case Summary of Leading Case -

On 10th January, 2007, a Constitution Bench in Raja Ram Pal vs The Hon'ble Speaker, Lok Sabha & Ors [ Writ Petition (Civil) No.1 of 2006] examined the question as to whether in exercise of the powers, privileges and immunities as contained in Article 105 of the Constitution, the Houses of Parliament are competent to expel their respective Members from membership of the House; that if such a power exists, is it subject to judicial review and if so, the scope of such judicial review.

Summarizing the principles relating to parameter of Judicial Review in relation to exercise of Parliamentary Provisions, the Bench per majority held as follows:- "(i) Parliament is a co-ordinate organ and its views do deserve deference even while its acts are amenable to judicial scrutiny; (ii) Constitutional system of government abhors absolutism and it being the cardinal principle of our Constitution that no one, howsoever lofty, can claim to be the sole judge of the power given under the Constitution, mere co-ordinate constitutional status, or even the status of an exalted constitutional functionaries, does not disentitle this Court from exercising its jurisdiction of judicial review of action which part-take the character of judicial or quasi-judicial decision; (iii) Expediency and necessity of exercise of power or privilege by the legislature are for the determination of the legislative authority and not for determination by the courts; (iv) Judicial review of the manner of exercise of power of contempt or privilege does not mean the said jurisdiction is being usurped by the judicature; (v) Having regard to the importance of the functions discharged by the legislature under the Constitution and the majesty and grandeur of its task, there would always be an initial presumption that the powers, privileges etc have been regularly and reasonably exercised, not violating the law or the Constitutional provisions, this presumption being a rebuttable one; (vi) Fact that Parliament is an august body of co-ordinate constitutional position does not mean that there can be no judicially manageable standards to review exercise of its power; (vii) While the area of powers, privileges and immunities of the legislature being exceptional and extraordinary its acts, particularly relating to exercise thereof, ought not to be tested on the traditional parameters of judicial review in the same manner as an ordinary administrative action would be tested, and the Court would confine itself to the acknowledged parameters of judicial review and within the judicially discoverable & manageable standards, there is no foundation to the plea that a legislative body cannot be attributed jurisdictional error; (viii) Judicature is not prevented from scrutinizing the validity of the action of the legislature trespassing on the fundamental rights conferred on the citizens; (ix) Broad contention that the exercise of privileges by legislatures cannot be decided against the touchstone of fundamental rights or the constitutional provisions is not correct; (x) If a citizen, whether a non-member or a member of the Legislature, complains that his fundamental rights under Article 20 or 21 had been contravened, it is the duty of this Court to examine the merits of the said contention, especially when the impugned action entails civil consequences; (xi) There is no basis to claim of bar of exclusive cognizance or absolute immunity to the Parliamentary proceedings in Article 105(3) of the Constitution and (xii) The manner of enforcement of privilege by the legislature can result in judicial scrutiny, though subject to the restrictions contained in the other Constitutional provisions, for example Article 122 or 212. Article 122 (1) and Article 212 (1) prohibit the validity of any proceedings in legislature from being called in question in a court merely on the ground of irregularity of procedure."

The Bench per majority further held that “(i) Ordinarily, the legislature, as a body, cannot be accused of having acted for an extraneous purpose or being actuated by caprice or mala fide intention, and the court will not lightly presume abuse or misuse, giving allowance for the fact that the legislature is the best judge of such matters, but if in a given case, the allegations to such effect are made, the Court may examine the validity of the said contention, the onus on the person alleging being extremely heavy; (ii) The rules which the legislature has to make for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business have to be subject to the provisions of the Constitution; (iii) Mere availability of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, as made by the legislature in exercise of enabling powers under the Constitution, is never a guarantee that they have been duly followed; (iv) The proceedings which may be tainted on account of substantive or gross illegality or unconstitutionality are not protected from judicial scrutiny; (v) Even if some of the material on which the action is taken is found to be irrelevant, the court would still not interfere so long as there is some relevant material sustaining the action and (vi) An ouster clause attaching finality to a determination does ordinarily oust the power of the court to review the decision but not on grounds of lack of jurisdiction or it being a nullity for some reason such as gross illegality, irrationality, violation of constitutional mandate, mala fides, non-compliance with rules of natural justice and perversity”.

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