Code of Conduct for Legislators


Introduction and Definition

In order to maintain the highest traditions in Parliamentary life, Members of Legislative Assembly are expected to observe a certain standard of conduct, both inside the House as well as outside it. Their behaviour should be such as to enhance the dignity of Legislature and its Members in general. The conduct of Members should not be contrary to the usage or derogatory to the dignity of the House or in any way inconsistent with the standards which Legislature 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 Legislative Assembly. 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.

In 1951, an ad hoc Committee of the House was appointed by the Provisional Parliament to investigate the conduct and activities of a Member (Shri H.G. Mudgal) in connection with some of his dealings with a business association which included canvassing, support and making propaganda in Parliament on certain problems on behalf of that association in return for alleged financial and other business advantages. The Committee was directed by the House to consider whether the conduct of the member concerned was derogatory to the dignity of the House and inconsistent with the standards which Parliament is entitled to expect from members. The Report of the Committee was presented to the House on 11th August, 1951. The Committee found the member guilty of receiving monetary benefit for putting of questions in Parliament, moving amendments to the forward contracts (Regulation) Bill and arranging interviews with Ministers etc. in its Report. The Committee held that the conduct of H.G. Mudgal was derogatory to the dignity of the House and inconsistent with the standards which Parliament was entitled to expect of its Members.

The report was then considered by the House on a motion moved by the Prime Minister on 24th September, 1951. The Committee had recommended the expulsion of the Member from the House. The Member, after participating in the debate, submitted his resignation from the membership of the House. In a resolution, the House accepted the findings of the Committee and deprecated the attempt of the member to circumvent the effects of the motion expelling him from the House, by his resignation which constituted a contempt of the House and aggravated his offence.

A separate note was submitted by one of the members of the Committee (Smt. G. Durgabai) which was appended to the Report of the Committee. Smt. Durgabai suggested in her note certain rules of conduct for legislators which were in conformity with standards set up in UK and USA.

In 1963, five Members of Parliament created disorder at the time of President’s Address under Article 87 of the Constitution to both the Houses of Parliament assembled together. On 19th February, 1963, the Speaker, Lok Sabha, nominated a Committee to investigate the conduct of the said five Members at the time of the President’s Address. The Committee, in their Report presented to the House on 12th March, 1963, laid down certain norms of conduct for Members at the time of the President’s Address. The Committee recommended that three members be reprimanded for their undesirable, undignified and unbecoming conduct during the President’s Address and for aggravating their offence by their evidence before the Committee. The Committee felt that the ends of justice

would be adequately met by expressing disapproval of the conduct of the remaining two members. The Committee also recommended that in future for any disorderly conduct during the President’s Address committed by a member, he may be suspended from the service of the House for a period which may extend up to one year. The three members were later on reprimanded by the Speaker as recommended by the Committee.

In 1971, when the President started reading his Address under Article 87 of the Constitution to both the House of Parliament assembled together, a Member of Lok Sabha interrupted him and created disorder. A Committee was nominated by the Speaker to go into the matter in all details in pursuance of a motion adopted by the House on 2nd April, 1971. The Committee, in their First Report presented to the House on 15th November, 1971, were of the view that conduct of the Member concerned during the President’s Address was improper and inconsistent with the dignity of the occasion and the standards of conduct which the House expects from its Members. In view of the explanation given by the Member, the Committee recommended that a lenient view may be taken and the matter may be dropped. The Committee, in their Second Report presented to the House on 14th April, 1972, formulated certain guidelines for the conduct of members and maintenance of order, dignity and decorum on the occasion of President’s Address to the House (s) of Parliament under Article 86 or 87 of the Constitution.

On the basis of the recommendations made by the Committee in their Reports referred to above and on the basis of well-established parliamentary practice, certain rules of conduct, norms of behaviour and conventions have developed over the years which can be loosely termed as the code of conduct for legislators for their functioning in the House, in Legislature Committees, during tours of Legislature Committees, during Governor’s Address to House, their functioning outside the House etc.