In India, the immunity of members of the assembly in bribery cases has been abolished

In India, the immunity of members of the assembly in bribery cases has been abolished

News By Mar 05, 2024 No Comments

1993 No-confidence motion against Narasimha Rao was bribed, which was avoided by giving immunity to the members of the Assembly, Photo: File

New Delhi: In a historic decision, the Supreme Court in India removed immunity from criminal prosecution for taking bribes from members of parliament.

According to Indian media, members of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha party were accused of accepting bribes to support the Narasimha Rao government in 1993 and the matter reached the court.

While examining the case, the court in Narasimha Rao v. State in 1998 exempted MLAs from investigation for taking bribes in return for speaking or voting in Parliament.

However, today, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India annulled the decision of 1998, saying that the corruption and bribery of the members of the assembly destroys the Indian parliamentary democracy.

In the judgment, the Supreme Court further said that bribery is not protected by parliamentary privileges. The interpretation of the 1998 judgment is against Articles 105, 194 of the Constitution.

Background of the case

JMM member and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren and 4 other party MLAs took bribes to vote against a no-confidence motion against Narasimha Rao in 1993, which saved Narasimha Rao’s government.

The opposition party, which had moved a no-confidence motion, had accused the four MLAs of taking bribes, on which the CBI had registered a case against Soren and four other JMM Lok Sabha MPs.

However, in 1998, the then Supreme Court bench exempted MPs and MLAs under Article 105(2) and Article 194(2) of the Constitution for accepting bribes for speaking or voting in the legislature.

Later, in the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand, bribery to vote for a candidate came up and MLA Sita Soren pleaded for immunity under the 1998 judgment.

However, in 2014, the Jharkhand High Court in its judgment refused to grant immunity in the criminal case registered against the member of the assembly for taking vote bribe. On which the Member of Assembly approached the Supreme Court.

On March 7, 2019, a three-judge Supreme Court panel headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi referred the case to a larger bench due to the significant implications of the question raised.

The court had noted that in view of the uncertainty and public importance, the case needed to be considered by a larger bench.

In October last year, a larger bench of the Supreme Court had reserved its verdict after hearing the case. The other judges on the bench included Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundaresh, PS Narasimha, JB Pardiwala, Sanjay Kumar, and Manoj Mishra.

Delivering a safe verdict today, the Supreme Court said that the Arakan Assembly is immune from criminal prosecution for accepting bribes to vote for someone in Parliament or to speak on any matter, which is unconstitutional and illegal.

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