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Breaking News: Not good for MPs and MLAs who give notes instead of votes, Supreme Court reverses 1998 decision

The Supreme Court has set aside the 1998 judgment in the PV Narasimha Rao case and said that MPs and MLAs are not immune from prosecution if they get votes in the assembly in return for bribes. The bench said that this was a unanimous decision and the Supreme Court disagreed with this concession. The 1998 decision said MPs and MLAs would be exempt from prosecution if they took bribes and voted in the House.
3 Month ago

The Supreme Court has set aside the 1998 judgment in the PV Narasimha Rao case and said that MPs and MLAs are not immune from legal action if they receive notes in exchange for votes. The bench said that this was a unanimous decision and the Supreme Court disagreed with this concession. The 1998 decision said MPs and MLAs would be exempt from prosecution if they took bribes and voted in the House.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision

A 7-judge bench of the Supreme Court has given this decision in the 'Sita Soren vs Government of India' case. The Supreme Court is interpreting the privileges granted to MPs and MLAs under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution. Besides CJI DY Chandrachud, the judges who delivered the judgment included Justice AS Bopanna, Justice MM Sundaresh, Justice PS Narasimha, Justice JB Pardiwala, Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Manoj Mishra.

The question before the court was whether or not public representatives can claim immunity from prosecution in cases of giving speeches or voting in the House in return for bribes. The Supreme Court had to reconsider its 1998 decision. The Supreme Court held that corruption or bribery by a member of the Legislative Assembly destroys integrity in public life.

Thus parliamentarians or MLAs cannot escape prosecution by taking bribes to vote in the House. The Supreme Court has overruled its decision in the 1998 Narasimha Rao judgment. In 1998, a 5-judge Constitution Bench decided by a majority of 3:2 that public representatives cannot be prosecuted in such bribery cases.

What is the matter?

About 25 years ago, in the 'PV Narasimha Rao vs. CBI case', the Supreme Court had exempted MPs from prosecution in 'not for vote' cases in the House. In a majority decision, the five-judge bench then observed that parliamentarians are immune from criminal prosecution under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) for any speech or vote given inside the House.

Due to another case, the decision of 'notes in lieu of votes in the House' reached the Supreme Court for reconsideration. Last year on September 20, the Supreme Court spoke of reconsidering the decision granting exemption from the 1998 judgment. Since 1998 the decision has been delivered by a bench of five judges with a majority of 3:2. Therefore, only a larger bench can reconsider this decision. Hence, a 7-judge bench came into being and concluded the hearing in the very next month.

Last year, the Attorney General and Solicitor General represented the Government of India in the Supreme Court, while PS Patwalia appeared as amicus curiae to assist the court.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Shibu Soren's family have been a common link during court proceedings on the issue, which spanned nearly 30 years from 1993 till date. In the 1993 case, the CBI named Shibu Soren as an accused in a bribery case. While the latest hearing in the Supreme Court was about the bribery scandal involving his daughter-in-law Sita Soren.

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