A debate held in memory of Senior Advocate late Ram Jethmalani by NewsX saw incumbent Government leaders and Opposition members of Parliament (MP) face off over whether Parliamentary disruptions can be seen as part of an MP's privilege or a facet of democracy..Starting off the discussion, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu was unequivocal in his stance that disruptions should not take place. .Rather, he opined that disruption of proceedings clearly amounts to contempt of the house.."'Is the disruption of Parliamentary proceedings an MP's privilege and/or a facet of Parliamentary democracy?' The answer is a NO. Simple ... Disruption in Parliament and legislature is a cause of concern ... Parliamentarians have to be constructive and productive and not disruptive ... Houses are there to discuss and frame laws. When Houses are not allowed to function, the laws passed are giving up. This is crippling democracy and making the government handicapped to pass bills without discussion ... If you don't allow the House and there is continuous disruption then what do you do? ... The question is, if Parliamentary disruptions is a facet of Parliamentary democracy, you speak, you protest, you oppose, but not through disruption", he remarked..The Vice-President, who also serves as the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. expressed anguish over instances when MPs climbed on the tables of Speakers or tore up papers to disrupt the House. "There used to be disruptions, but this was never imagined", he said. .Commenting on why he is often seen as adjourning Rajya Sabha proceedings, he added,"I don't want such ugly things to be seen by everyone. Of course, I have heard that I should allow it as people should know, so I am having a rethink on it.".Using the opportunity to appeal to all political parties to introspect and refrain from disruption proceedings, he further said, "Children had asked me after watching me on TV that 'are you so helpless?' I can take action and I will, but is that the only option? I urge all parties to put an end to the unsavoury disruptions.".Union Law Minister, Kiren Rijiju observed that when MPs claim to have privileges, it should not be forgotten that they also have greater responsibilities. .He went on to highlight that there is a total disconnect between what happens in the House and what is disseminated outside, as attention is drawn to people who disrupt, and who may be loudest. "Those who speak with high volume and oratory skills will make news. But if disruptors become news makers then it is not good for democracy. If you disrupt the house it is the headline ... We often are getting bereft of quality MPs and the points they make ... This disconnect between what happens in the house and what is disseminated outside needs to go," he said..Referring to parliamentary adjournments, he added, "My office researches so much for the questions but the House only gets adjourned. In a Parliamentary democracy, questions are so important and this tradition is slowly fading. But everyone has their freedom of right to speech and expression.".Advocate General KK Venugopal said that he would refrain from speaking on public issues, given that he represents the government of India. .On the other hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta began with a cautionary note that what he is saying would be his personal views and not that of the Central government. "Parliamentary disruptions have resulted in leading to people getting disillusioned about the House. This, according to me, is one the most scary thing to happen ... When I say Parliamentarian, I mean all of them across party lines. The common man expects them to be sitting and discuss issues and not walk out from there. The common man does not expect nor accept such a situation ... For all the intellectual brilliance present in the Parliament let us inspire the world and not amuse the world by our antics", he appealed. He further said that while he did not have the occasion to witness legendary parliamentarians like Ram Manohar Lohia, Feroz Gandhi or Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru but he was fortunate to see eminent parliamentarians like late Arun Jaitley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and late Sushma Swaraj."I did not have the occasion to see or witness legends like Ram Manohar Lohia ji, Feroz Gandhi, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru etc. but all of us have seen veterans like Atalji, Chandrashekhar ji, Madhu Dandvate ji and Venkaiha ji. etc. In the recent times, we have seen eminent Parliamentarians like legendary Arun Jetly ji, our Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi ji, late Smt. Sushma ji and many others. We have also witnessed unique humour and wit of Parliamentarians like Lalu Prasad Yadav," he said..Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani recalled former Union Minister and Senior Advocate, late Arun Jaitley as having commented that disruption" becomes the norm when voice of the people are not heard." "What we saw in monsoon session (was) where voice of people was disrupted by ones who are drawn by political considerations. In the last monsoon session, not only disruption, but even physical act took place in front of the Chair of the Speaker. This brought us great disrepute. Those who could not win through ballot now use the house to bring disrepute to the house", she said. .She went on to opine, "When the opposition decides to deliberate with modicum of respect then we can together for the betterment of the country.".Trinamool Congress Party MP, Mahua Moitra registered protest that opposition leaders are being mischievously conveyed as disruptors. "Please take it from me as a member of the opposition - our Parliamentary proceedings are not only disrupted, but also subverted and manipulated to the extent that the very core of our Parliamentary system is being shaken. It's not by the members of the opposition but it is by the fascist forces who cannot handle the slightest hint of pluralism ... These are the people who are truly responsible for disrupting the spirit of Parliamentary democracy. Protest and dissent are absolutely essential to any democracy ... Those who stood up for righteousness are abused as disruptors", she contended. .Moitra was followed by Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium who highlighted that the Parliament is not just a building, but the bedrock of our democracy. "For the government, it is most important as Parliament must always function so that there is perpetual accountability .. How can Parliamentary democracy and transparency be ensured if Parliament does not function? if the history of Parliament is looked at, it will be seen that fewer ordinances were passed. In a country like India, various forms of ideas have to be encouraged", he said. .Former Solicitor General and Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar weighed in by pointing out that that just because there is immunity attached to parliamentarians in certain respects, "it does not mean you can tear papers and say that it is my way or highway.""1.4 billion people have chosen you to be there. Then, if you don't bring about laws for the country, then you are doing a disservice to the people who made you reach the House ... Disruption of Parliamentary proceedings is not a privilege that a member enjoys and is not a facet of parliamentary demcoracy. there is no freedom of disorder within the freedom of speech," he said. .He, however, went on to observe that, "Walk out from the House does not form disruption but is a legitimate form of protest.".S Gurumuthy, the Editor of the magazine Thuglak highlighted that there has to be a divide between the intellectual discussions in Parliament and street protests, which are characteristics of mass politics. .He observed that the right to disrupt is now being viewed as an ideological right. .Making out a case to emulate, he added that the Constituent Assembly sat at a time when the country was on fire to frame a working Constitution of India which was also far sighted. .By contrast, he noted that the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan could not meet and was dysfunctional for three years. Even though it made a Constitution in 1954, the Assembly was then dissolved, he recalled. They could not frame a Constitution because there was no give and take. Democracy involves working for a common purpose, he emphasised. He went on to observe that not enough attention is given to understanding the institution of the Parliament. "Most of our Parliamentarians do not have the knowledge of what is Parliamentary behavior ... We have to rebuild this institution and its credibility in the minds of the Parliamentarians itself," he added. .As he concluded his speech, he put forth three suggestions for law makers and the judiciary to consider:1. The identity of the disruptors of parliament should be must be put out in parliamentary television and disclosed in press notes.2. Election Commission rules must be amended to include an MP's misbehaviour in parliamentary proceedings in affidavits to the Election Commission.3. There should be a Constitutional amendment to bring legislative misbehaviour as a criterion for attracting disqualification..The last speaker of the day was former Member of Parliament, Pawan Varma, who, at the outset, disclosed that he is generally against the disruption of the House. "I think, for the opposition also, there is reason to introspect why a civilized debate is a better option than the unseemly spectacle that goes on in the house every day. I have a feeling that the people at large would prefer a debate and for parliament to function with dignity and decorum rather than the pandemonium that exists every.".However, he went on to observe that, on the one hand, there certain circumstances where some forms of protest may be justified. "I do want to make the point, that you need both hands to clap. While I am not justifying the unseemly or lawless disruptions, which are transgressions of parliamentary procedure and decorum, I believe the Government also needs to introspect ..I would like to recall two instances, where frankly as an objective observer, I was very disappointed, on a whip from the government, the three farm laws were passed. It will remain a blot on the functioning of the parliamentary democracy. No debate was allowed. A bill that should have been referred to a select committee was not referred. The three laws were rushed through within one hour … What does the opposition do in such a situation? ... You may have a brute majority, but parliament must function by giving equal space and equal respect to the legitimate demands of the opposition rather than treating the opposition as a dispensable accessory," he said..Further, he added that it would not be correct to blame only the present Opposition for Parliamentary disruptions. "This vicious cycle has a precedent. These very disruptions that the opposition today receives homilies from the treasury benches about what should be correct procedure and behaviour were routed during the last years of the previous UPA government. You have great luminaries, for whom I have personally great respect - leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mr Arun Jaitley - in the Lok Sabha, Mrs Sushma Swaraj - both of them legitimising the disruption of the house as an extension of democratic practice. I am not a legal luminary, but there is a concept in law called ‘legal estoppel. You cannot take advantage of your own fault. Today when the show is on the other foot, you make disruption of the House legitimate and said so publicly. Today, when the opposition resorts to it, the opposition is 'unruly, undemocratic, uncivilized' and somehow beyond the pale.".As a parting shot, Varma also referred to the Pegasus scandal. "In the most recent case, I cannot understand why the Government, for instance, would not allow a discussion on Pegasus ... Partly the legitimacy that has been given to disruptions today, which I dont support personally, are based on precedents in the past," he said.