Bribery not protected by legislative privileges: SC

Bribery not protected by legislative privileges: SC

No immunity for MPs/MLAs taking bribe to vote, make speech in House

New Delhi: The lawmakers taking bribe to vote or make a speech in the House are not immune from prosecution, the Supreme Court said on Monday in a landmark, unanimous verdict that overrules its 1998 judgment protecting such MPs and MLAs.

Observing that corruption and bribery of members of the legislature erode the foundation of Indian parliamentary democracy, a seven-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud overruled the apex court’s five-judge bench’s 1998 verdict in the JMM bribery case — involving five party leaders accepting bribes to vote against the no-confidence motion threatening the P V Narasimha Rao government in 1993.

“Bribery is not protected by parliamentary privileges,” the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna, M M Sundresh, P S Narasimha, J B Pardiwala, Sanjay Kumar and Manoj Misra, said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the verdict in a post on X. “SWAGATAM! A great judgment by the Hon’ble Supreme Court which will ensure clean politics and deepen people’s faith in the system,” he said.

Stating that “corruption and bribery by members of the legislatures erode probity in public life”, the apex court held that a five-judge bench’s interpretation in the 1998 verdict in the JMM bribery case was contrary to Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution. Articles 105 and 194 deal with the powers and privileges of MPs and MLAs in the Parliament and the legislative Assemblies.

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