Some parts of the speeches made on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address by the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and the Congress party president in Lok Sabha were recently removed by the Presiding Officers of respective Houses.

This has sparked off a debate related to Freedom of Speech of members in the Parliament (MPs) arguing that no personal allegations were made in the respective addresses in the House, and thus expunction (deletion) of portions of MPs speech is unparliamentary.


What is meant by Expunction

  • It means removal from the records of Parliament a word or portion or entire speech delivered by the MPs in the respective House.
  • It is exercised upon by the orders of the Speaker or Chairman and is carried out in accordance with laid down rules.
  • The expunged portions can no longer be reported by media houses, even though they may have been heard during the live telecast of the proceedings.


Rules for expunging a speech

  • Article 105 of the Constitution — It confers on members, freedom of speech in the House and immunity from interference by the court for anything said in the House.
  • Respective House rules granting powers to Presiding Officers —
      • Rule 380 of the Rules of procedure of the LS and Rule 261 of the RS give the power to the presiding officers of these Houses to expunge any words used in the debate which are defamatory, unparliamentary, undignified or indecent.
      • It implies that if the allegation is neither defamatory nor incriminatory, the above rule would have no application.
      • Once expunged they do not remain on record and if anyone publishes them thereafter, they will be liable for breach of privilege of the House.
  • Issue of defamation — Any comment regarding the behaviour of a public official in the performance of his public role or his character is not considered defamatory under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
      • If such a statement is made in the House against a Minister, who is a public servant, it does not provide a reason for the presiding officers to expunge portions of a speech on the ground that they are defamatory.
  • Exception related to MinistersThe rule does not apply to an allegation against a Minister in the government.
      • This is because the Council of Ministers is accountable to Parliament, and the Members of the House have the right to question Ministers and make accusations against their conduct as Ministers.


What is the procedure related to MPs allegation against a Minister?

  • A certain procedure has been laid down by Speakers in the past related to MPs, as an allegation against a Minister or the PM is considered to be a serious matter.
  • Thus, the MP who makes an imputation against a Minister of the government should be sure about the factual basis of the allegation, and that s/he must take responsibility for it.
      • If the MP complies with this stipulation, then the allegation will be allowed to remain on record.
      • There have been many instances in the LS when MPs have made allegations against Ministers.
  • In 1965, when Prakash Vir Shastri, a LS MP, made personal allegations against Humayun Kabir, the then Minister for Education, the Minister refuted the allegation but the MP reiterated his allegation and referred to press reports.
      • However, the Speaker, Sardar Hukam Singh in his ruling noted that a mere report in a newspaper about anything does not give MP the privilege to raise it in the House.
  • In 1981, LS MP, Bapusaheb Parulekar made a reference to an allegation published in a weekly newspaper against the then Railway Minister, Kedar Pande, and his family members in connection with permanent railway card passes.
      • The Deputy Speaker, G. Lakshmanan, who was in the chair also ruled that the member should, before making an allegation in the House, satisfy himself after making enquiries that there is a basis for the allegation.
      • The member should also be prepared to substantiate and accept responsibility for the allegation.



Before the weapon of expunction is wielded, it needs to be ascertained whether the speech contains defamatory or incriminatory statements or only critical comments (which a MP has the right to make). It also needs to be ensured that the freedom of speech enjoyed by the Members in the House is not needlessly curtailed.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – What is expunction of speech from the parliamentary records? How it has been weaponised against the freedom of speech under Article 105 of the Constitution? Also comment if unsubstantiated allegations against MPs should also be made eligible to be expunged from the parliamentary records?