Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

2. Interpretation.

PART I

Privileges, Immunities and Powers Generally, and Supplemental Provisions

3. Freedom of speech and debate.

4. Freedom from arrest in civil proceedings.

5. Members not liable to action in certain cases.

6. Person not liable in damages for acts done under authority of Parliament.

7. Immunities to be the same as those enjoyed by House of Commons.

8. Commons journals to be prima facie evidence in inquiries touching privileges.

9. Privileges to be noticed judicially.

10. Power to order attendance of witnesses.

11. Attendance to be notified by summons.

12. Witnesses may be examined on oath.

13. Objection to answer question or to produce papers to be reported to Parliament for decision.

14. Penalty for perjury before Parliament or Committee.

15. Application of practice of House of Commons as to privileged evidence.

16. Immunity of witnesses in respect of evidence.

17. Evidence of proceedings in Parliament or Committee not to be given without leave.

18. Matter printed by order of Parliament to be admitted as evidence.

19. Protection for publication of reports published under the authority of Parliament and for publication of copies thereof or extracts therefrom.

20. Regulation of admittance of strangers.

21. Person disturbing proceedings of Parliament may be arrested without warrant.

PART II

Breaches of Privilege of Parliament and Punishment Thereof

22. Breaches of privilege.

23. Jurisdiction of Supreme Court in cases of breaches of privilege.

24. Procedure in the Supreme Court.

25. Conditions precedent to making of application to Supreme Court.

26. Reference of cases to Attorney-General with statements.

27. Parliament's jurisdiction over offences specified in Part B of Schedule.

27A. Repealed.

28. Punishment which Parliament may impose.

29. Power of arrest for carrying out punishment.

30. Standing Orders for procedure in cases of breach of privilege.

31. Saving of prosecutions and civil actions.

32. Limitation of power of punishment by Parliament.

SCHEDULE

5 of 1978,

21 of 1953,

17 of 1980,

25 of 1984,

37 of 1987,

27 of 1997.

AN ACT to declare and define the privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament and of the members thereof; to secure freedom of speech and debate or proceedings in Parliament; to provide for the punishment of breaches of the privileges of Parliament; and to give protection to persons employed in the publication of the reports, papers, minutes, votes or proceedings of Parliament.

[Date of Commencement: 17th April, 1953]

1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act.

2. Interpretation.

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

"Clerk” means the Secretary-General of Parliament;

"Committee” means any standing, select or other Committee of Parliament;

"Parliament” means the Parliament of Sri Lanka, and includes a Committee;

"Member” means a member of Parliament and includes the President, the Speaker and any member presiding in Parliament or in Committee;

"Officer of Parliament” means any person who may from time to time be appointed to the staff of Parliament, whether permanently or temporarily, and includes the Clerk and any Police Officer on duty within the precincts of Parliament;

"President” or "Speaker” includes the member for the time being presiding over Parliament.

PART I

Privileges, Immunities and Powers Generally, and Supplemental Provisions

3. Freedom of speech and debate.

There shall be freedom of speech, debate and proceeding in Parliament and such freedom of speech, debate or proceedings shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any Court or place out of Parliament.

4. Freedom from arrest in civil proceedings.

No member shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment, or damages by reason of anything which he may have said in Parliament or by reason of any matter or thing which he may have brought before Parliament by petition, bill, resolution, motion or otherwise.

5. Members not liable to action in certain cases.

Except for a contravention of this Act, no member shall be liable to arrest, detention, or molestation in respect of any debt or matter which may be the subject of civil proceeding while proceeding to, or in attendance at, or returning from, any meeting or sitting of Parliament:

Provided that any person otherwise entitled to any immunity or privilege under this section who shall be deemed to have committed any act of insolvency may be dealt with under the insolvency Ordinance as if he had not such immunity or privilege.

6. Person not liable in damages for acts done under authority of Parliament.

No person shall be liable in damages or otherwise for any act done under the authority of Parliament and within its legal powers.

7. Immunities to be the same as those enjoyed by House of Commons.

Parliament and the members thereof shall hold, enjoy and exercise, in addition to the privileges, immunities and powers conferred by this Act, such and the like immunities as are for the time being held, enjoyed and exercised by the Commons House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and by the members thereof.

8. Commons journals to be prima facie evidence in inquiries touching privileges.

Subject to the provisions of this Act, a copy of the journals of the Commons House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, or of the proceedings of the said House, or of a report of any Committee of the said House, which has been or purports to have been printed by the order of or by the printer of the said House shall be received as prima facie evidence without proof of its being such copy upon any inquiry touching the privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament or members thereof.

9. Privileges to be noticed judicially.

All privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament shall be part of the general and public law of Sri Lanka, and it shall not be necessary to plead the same, but the same shall in all Courts in Sri Lanka be judicially noticed.

10. Power to order attendance of witnesses.

Parliament, and any Committee which is duly authorised by an order of Parliament to send for persons, papers and records, may order any person to attend before Parliament or before such Committee, and to produce any paper, book, record or document in the possession or under the control of such person.

11. Attendance to be notified by summons.

Any order to attend or to produce documents before Parliament or before any Committee shall be notified to the person required to attend or produce documents by a summons. under the hand of the Clerk issued by direction of the President or Speaker or the Chairman of the Committee; and in every such summons there shall be stated the time when and the place where the person summoned is required to attend and the particular documents which he is required to produce, and the summons shall be served on the person mentioned therein either by delivering to him a copy thereof or by leaving a copy there of at his usual or last known place of abode in Sri Lanka with some adult person; and there shall be paid to the person who attends on such summons, if he does not reside within five miles of the Chamber of Parliament, such sum for his expenses as may be prescribed, by the President or Speaker.

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