Deprivileging bribe: On overruling the majority verdict in P.V. Narasimha Rao vs State

Syllabus: GS-II, Subject: Polity, Topic: Legislature, Issue: Privileges

Context: Recent Supreme Court judgement on parliamentary privileges

  • SC overturns 1998 JMM bribery case verdict; MPs, MLAs not immune to bribery charges.
  • Historic ruling clarifies parliamentary privileges don’t shield legislators from prosecution for corruption, ensuring legislators’ accountability.
  • Decision based on equality, probity principles; aims to protect parliamentary democracy’s foundation.
  • Distinction between bribe-givers and -takers eliminated; all accountable under law.
  • Recognizes potential for misuse, asserts judiciary’s jurisdiction to prosecute bribery without weakening legislative functions.
  • Ruling protects legislators’ freedom of speech under Article 105 and Article 194 while ensuring it doesn’t cover corrupt acts.
  • Reinforces need for a responsible, responsive, and representative democracy free from corruption.
  • The Bench has also held that voting in a Rajya Sabha election, being part of a legislator’s function, is protected under Article 194 as a privilege.
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