On 8 February 2021, Mahua Moitra said the following in her speech in Lok Sabha during the discussion on motion of thanks on the President's address:

The sacred cow that was the judiciary is no longer sacred. It stopped being sacred the day a sitting chief justice of this country was accused of sexual harassment, presided over his own trial, cleared himself and then proceeded to accept a nomination to the upper house within three months of retirement, replete with Z+ security cover.

Link to the speech: https://loksabhatv.nic.in/sites/default/files/videos/speeches/Mahua%20Moitra%208%20feb.mp4 (at 8:55)

She was referring to the former Chief Justice of India, Mr. Ranjan Gogoi.

You can read more about the sexual harassment accusation here:

Some members of the parliament issued breach of privilege (read more here: https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/breach-of-privileges-upsc-notes/ & https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/privilege-motion/) notice against Mahua Moitra because of the remarks she made about the former CJI. Read more about it here:

Mr. Ranjan Gogoi responded to Mahua Moitra by saying this in an event:

She didn't even have her facts correct. If you are making allegations, at least name the person. I have a name and I deserve to be named. Those allegations are wrong in facts. Source

Firstly, who is saying the truth?

Secondly, according to Article 19 of the Constitution of India, every Indian has the right to freedom of speech. I do know that there are certain restrictions in freedom of speech (like sedition, obscenity, etc.), but I certainly don't feel what Mahua Moitra said can land her in legal trouble because of Article 19 or am I mistaken?


1 Answer 1


In the Westminster system (the Parliament of India one of those which is in many ways modelled on the Parliament in Britain) members have certain privileges. One of which is that the courts cannot take any action against a member for anything that they say in the chamber. You cannot sue a member of the Lok Sabha for libel or defamation for what they say in the chamber. The freedom of speech for MPs is much greater than that guaranteed by Article 19.

The House is intended to be self-governing, so while it is legal to say anything, the house can censure or suspend members who abuse their privilege. This is the "breach of privilege notice". It informs the member that they spoke in a way that the House judged to be contrary to the rules and conventions of the House. In this case because it is openly critical of an individual (in a way that would probably lead to a trial for slander if it were repeated outside Parliament) and it is openly critical of the institution of the courts, and alleges corruption in the process of law.

It is notable though that the decision to give notice of a breach of privilege was split along party lines. This somewhat devalues the decision

  • I've updated my question a bit. Please go through it. Apr 5, 2021 at 10:21
  • I don't see any changes made since the edits nearly a month ago. I think my answer stands. Note that several of the links are blocked to Europeans so I can't review them
    – James K
    Apr 5, 2021 at 10:26
  • Yeah, I made the edit a month ago. I was thinking that you might have not gone through the edit. I wanted to know if the allegation made by Mahua Moitra is true or not. Also, please let me know which links you are unable to access. Apr 5, 2021 at 10:28

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