No immunity for MPs, MLAs in bribery cases: SC

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Source-This post on No immunity for MPs, MLAs in bribery cases: SC is based on the article “Immunity won’t protect legislators taking bribes to vote in Parliament from criminal prosecution: Supreme Court” published in “The Hindu” on 4th March 2024.

Why in the News?

The Supreme Court recently ruled that parliamentary privilege or immunity would not shield legislators who accept bribes to vote or speak in Parliament or State Legislative Assemblies from criminal prosecution. The Supreme Court overruled its judgment in the JMM bribery case of 1998.

Background– In 1993, JMM leader Shibu Soren and some of his party MPs were accused of accepting bribes to vote against the no-confidence motion against the then P V Narasimha Rao government. In 1998, a five-judge Supreme Court bench, in its majority ruling, dismissed the case against the JMM MPs, citing immunity under Article 105(2).

What was the recent ruling by the Supreme Court?

No immunity for MPs, MLAs in bribery cases
Source- Hindustan Times

1. The court stated that legislators’ freedom of speech and expression, along with their voting rights in the House, do not protect them from giving or taking bribes. Similarly, the immunities provided under Article 105 and 194 also do not shield them in such cases.

2. The act of bribery is considered complete when the legislator accepts the bribe. It doesn’t matter if the legislator votes as agreed or doesn’t vote at all.

Note– The reference came in an appeal filed by JMM leader Sita Soren, who was accused of taking a bribe to vote for a particular candidate in the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections.

What are the constitutional immunities for state legislature and parliament members?

1. Article 194(2) of the Constitution grants immunity to State Legislature members, while Article 105(2) provides the same protections to Parliament members.

2. Article 105 of the Constitution addresses the authority, privileges, and immunities of Parliament and its members.

3. Article 105(2) states that no Member of Parliament can be held accountable in court for statements made or votes cast in Parliament or its committees.

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