In order to maintain the highest traditions in parliamentary life, members of Parliament are expected to observe a certain standard of conduct both inside the house as well as outside it.
Parliament of India
- Their behavior should be such as to enhance the dignity of Parliament and its members in general. The conduct of members should not be contrary to the usage of derogatory to the dignity of the House or in any way inconsistent with the standards which Parliament is entitled to expect of its members.
- The extent and amplitude of the words “conduct of a member” cannot be defined exhaustively. It is within the powers of the House in each case to determine whether a member has acted in an unbecoming manner or has acted in a manner unworthy of a member of Parliament.
- Thus, even though the facts of a particular case do not come within any of the recognized heads of breach of privilege or contempt of the House the conduct of a member may be considered by the House as unbecoming and derogatory to the dignity of the House.
General Rules of Etiquette
➢ Whilst the House is sitting a member
- Shall not read any book, newspaper or letter except in connection with the business of the House.
- Shall not interrupt any member while speaking by disorderly expression or noises or in any other disorderly manner.
- Shall bow to the Chair while entering or leaving the House and also when taking or leaving the seat.
- Shall not pass between the Chair and any member who is speaking.
- Shall not leave the House when the Speaker is addressing the House.
- Shall always address the Chair.
- Shall keep to his usual seat while addressing the House.
- Shall maintain silence when not speaking in the House.
- Shall not obstruct proceeding, or interrupt and shall avoid making running commentaries when another member is speaking.
- Shall not applaud when a stranger enters any of the Galleries, or the Special Box.
- Shall not shout slogans in the House.
- Shall not sit or stand with his back towards the Chair.
- Shall not approach the Chair personally in the House. He may send chits to the officers at the Table, if necessary.
- Shall not wear or display badges of any kind in the House.
- Shall not bring or display arms in the House.
- Shall not display flags, emblems of any exhibits in the House.
- Shall not leave the House immediately after delivering his speech.
- Shall not distribute within the precincts of Parliament House any literature, questionnaire, pamphlets, press notes, leaflets etc. not connected with the business of the House.
- Shall not place his hat/cap on the desk in the House, bring boards in the Chamber for keeping files or for writing purposes, smoke or enter the House with his coat hanging on the arms.
- Shall not carry walking stick into the House unless permitted by the Speaker on health grounds.
- Shall not tear off documents in the House in protest.
- Shall not bring or play cassette or tape recorder in the House.
- Shall avoid talking or laughing in Lobby loud enough to be heard in the House.
- Shall not sit on Satyagraha and Dharna inside the House and in front of the House.
Try yourself:Consider the following statement regarding general Etiquette;
1. Can speak in between while another member is speaking.
2. Can leave the house once his speech his finished.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- One shall not speak when another member is speaking. Hence, statement 1 is incorrect.
- One shall not leave the house one his/her speech is finished. Hence, statement 2 is incorrect.
Rule to be observed while speaking
➢ A member while speaking shall not
- Refer to any matter of fact on which a judicial decision is pending;
- Make personal reference by way of making an allegation imputing a motive to or questioning the bona fides of any other member of the House unless it be imperatively necessary for the pur-pose of the debate being itself a matter in issue or relevant thereto;
- Use offensive expression about the conduct of proceedings of Parliament or any State Legislature;
- Reflect on any determination of the House except on a motion for rescinding it;
- Reflect upon the conduct of persons in high authority unless the discussion is based on a substantive motion drawn in proper terms;
- Use the President’s name for the purpose of influencing the debate;
- Utter treasonable-seditions or defamatory words;
- Use his right of speech for the purpose of obstructing the business of the House;
- Make any reference to the strangers in any of the galleries;
- Refer to Government officials by name: and
- Read a written speech except with the previous permission of the Chair.
➢ During the sittings of Committees
- During the sittings of Parliamentary Committees, members are required to observe the following code of conduct
- Where a member of a Committee has a personal pecuniary or direct interest in any matter which is to be considered by the Committee, he shall state his interest therein to the Speaker through the Chairman of the Committee.
- The proceedings of a Committee shall be treated as confidential and it shall not be permissible for a member of the Committee or any one who has access to its proceedings to communicate directly or indirectly to the press any information regarding its proceeding including its report or any conclusion arrived at, finally or tentatively, before the report has been presented to the House.
- The evidence given before a Committee shall not be published by any member of the Committee or by any other person until it has been laid on the Table.
➢ During the study tours of Parliamentary Committees
- During the study tours of Parliamentary Committees, members are required to observe the following code of conduct:
- Inter mediate journeys should be avoided during the tours.
- When transport is provided by Government/Undertakings during the tours of the Committee, such transport should be used for Committee work and not by individual members for distant private visits.
- During tours, members should take particular care to maintain proper dignity and decorum so that no criticism is made of the Committee in any manner.
- During the tour, if a member falls ill and the doctor advises him not to undertake further tour, he should follow the doctor’s advice.
- No member should give press statement regarding Committee proceedings to press. Whenever any briefing of the press is required to be done, the same should be done by the Chairman of the Committee.
- The members should not accept any costly gifts during the tour. Inexpensive momentos connected with the organisation visited could however be accepted.
- The Committee or sub -Committee or Study Group, while on tour, should not accept any invitation for lunch or dinner or other hospitality he might be extended by any private party. At the official lunches or dinners, if any, that might be accepted by the Committee or Sub-Committee or Study Group, no liquor should be allowed to be served.
- No member should take any other person during the official tours. An attendant or member’s spouse may accompany a member on medical grounds with the prior permission of the Speaker. In such cases, the member will bear all expenses including hotel charges in respect of his/her spouse or attendant. In case a member is found having any accompanying person without prior permission, he/she would not only bear all the expenses of such a person but would also stand automatically debarred from undertaking any Committee tour thereafter.
- The spouse or attendant of a member should in no case, accompany Committee members during official study visit to any installation, undertaking, office or establishment and during informal discussions with officers of the concerned establishment, undertaking, etc.
➢ Code of Conduct during Delegations to Foreign Countries
- Members of a delegation to foreign countries not to give any press interview or statement; only the leader of the delegations are authorized to make press statements or interviews.
➢ Code of Conduct for Legislators during President’s Address
- When the President addresses either House of Parliament or both Houses of Parliament assembled together under article 86 or article 87 of the Constitution, he delivers his Address in his capacity as the head of the State and as much a constitutional obligation on the part of the members to listen to the President’s Address with solemnity, dignity and decorum as it is on the part of the President to address Members of Parliament. Therefore, observance of solemnity, dignity and decorum by each and every members or any other person present on the occasion of the President’s Address is of utmost importance.
- Any action on the part of member or any person which mars in any form or manner the dignity or solemnity of the occasion of the President’s Address or create disturbances shall be tantamount to an act of discourtesy and disrespect to the President as well as contempt of the House.
Try yourself:Who can give interviews to press during foreign delegations:
While during delegation with foreigners no one shall interact with press and only leader of the delegation is allowed to provide a press statement.
- When members of either House or of both Houses assemble under article 86 or article 87 of the Constitution, they do so for the specific and only purpose of listening to the President’s Address. This occasion is neither a sitting of their House nor a joint sitting of the two House. No business or proceeding other than the President’s Address is permissible under either of these two articles. Therefore, any interruption, point of order, speech, demonstration or walk-out etc. by any member or other person on that occasion, is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
- No member shall, therefore, interrupt or obstruct the President’s Address by any point of order, debate, discussion or in any other manner or otherwise mar the dignity of the occasion by walkout or by any disorderly conduct or in any other manner, either before or during or after the Address, while the President is in the Hall.
- The President is incharge of the proceeding and fully competent to preserve order on the occasion of his Address. If any member or other person interrupts or obstructs the President’s Address or mars the dignity of the occasion in any other manner, the President may give such directions as he may consider necessary to preserve order, solemnity and dignity of the occasion.
- If any member or other person interrupts or obstructs the President’s Address to either House of Parliament or both Houses of Parliament assembled together, either before or during or after the Address, while the President is in the Hall, with any speech or point of order or walk-out or in any other manner, such interruption, obstruction or show of disrespect may be considered as a grossly disorderly conduct on the part of the concerned member or other person and a contempt of the House which may be dealt with by the House subsequently on a motion moved by a member.
➢ Code of Conduct of Legislators outside the Legislature
- Information given to members in confidence or by virtue of their being members of Committees of Parliament should not be divulged to anyone nor used by them directly or indirectly in the profession in which they are engaged, newspapers or proprietors of business firms and so on.
- A member should not try to secure business from Government for a firm, company or organisation with which he is directly or indirectly concerned.
- A member should not give certificates which are not based on facts.
- A member should not make profit out of Government residence allotted to him by sub-letting the premises.
- A member should not unduly influence the Government officials or the Ministers in a case in which he is interested financially either directly or indirectly.
- A member should not receive hospitality of any kind for any work that he desires or proposes to do from a person or organisation on whose behalf the work is to be done by him.
- A member should not in his capacity as a lawyer or a legal adviser or a counselor a solicitor appears before a Minister or an executive officer exercising quasi-judicial powers.
- A member should not proceed to take action on behalf of his constituents on some insufficient or baseless facts.
- A member should not permit himself to be used as a ready supporter of anybody’s grievances or complaints.
- A member should not endorse incorrect certificates on bills claiming amounts due to him.
- A member should not elicit information from Government in an unauthorized manner by inducing a subordinate to give information which in the course of his normal functions he should not do. Nor encourage any such person to speak to him against his senior officials on matters of public importance and policy.
- A member should not write recommendatory letters or speak to Government officials for employment of business contacts for any of his relations or other persons in whom he is directly or indirectly interested.
➢ Punishment for Breach of Code of conduct
- The House has the right to punish its members for their misconduct. It exercises its jurisdiction of scrutiny over its members for their conduct whether it takes place inside or outside the House. It has also the power to punish its members for disorderly conduct and other contempt’s, whether committed within the House or beyond its walls.
- In the case of misconduct or contempt’s committed by its members, the House can impose these punishments; admonition, reprimand, withdrawal from the House, suspension from the service of the House, imprisonment, and expulsion from the House.