News Karnataka
Thursday, April 25 2024

Supreme Court Rules Out Immunity for MPs, MLAs in Bribery Cases

Supreme Court
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New Delhi: Today, the Supreme Court delivered a significant verdict, stating that lawmakers in both parliament and state legislatures can be prosecuted in bribery cases. The ruling, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and endorsed by a seven-judge bench, overturned a 1998 judgment that had granted immunity to lawmakers in instances where MPs or MLAs received bribes for their speeches or votes in the House.

The court emphasized that bribery does not fall under the umbrella of parliamentary privileges, contradicting the interpretation of the 1998 verdict with respect to Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution. These articles provide legal immunity to elected representatives to ensure they can carry out their duties without fear of prosecution.

Chief Justice Chandrachud remarked, “We disagree with the judgment in PV Narasimha (case). The judgment in PV Narasimha which grants immunity to a legislator for alleged bribery for casting a vote or speech has wide ramifications and is overruled.”

The PV Narasimha Rao case, stemming from a no-confidence motion against his government in July 1993, revealed allegations of bribery involving legislators of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha who purportedly accepted bribes to support Rao’s government. In 1998, the Supreme Court had ruled that lawmakers’ immunity extended to their votes and speeches within the House.

However, the court’s recent decision declares that seeking immunity in such scenarios does not align with the necessity of carrying out legislative functions.

“We hold that bribery is not protected by Parliamentary privileges. Corruption and bribery by legislators undermine the functioning of Indian Parliamentary democracy. An MLA accepting a bribe to vote in Rajya Sabha elections is also liable under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” stated the bench.

Chief Justice Chandrachud highlighted the paradoxical nature of the PV Narasimha judgment, where a legislator who accepts a bribe and votes accordingly is shielded from prosecution, while one who votes independently despite accepting a bribe faces legal consequences.

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