JMM bribes for votes ruling: How Supreme Court interpreted privilege for lawmakers

La Excellence IAS Academy

JMM bribes for votes ruling: How Supreme Court interpreted privilege for lawmakers

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La Excellence IAS Academy | March 5, 2024 | Indian Polity

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

Why in news:

  • Recently A seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that:
  • Lawmakers facing bribery charges in connection with their speech and votes in the House cannot be immune from criminal prosecution.
  • Claims to parliamentary privilege by lawmakers can be subject to judicial review.
  • Only Parliament cannot have the last word on the issue.

     Parliamentary privileges:

  • Article 105(2) of the Constitution grants immunity to Members of Parliament regarding their speeches and votes in Parliament or its committees. (Member of state assembly under Article 194(2))
  • It extends to publications authorized by Parliament or state assemblies.

     Supreme Court’s interpretation on law of privileges

  • Privilege in India originate from constitution.
  • Two types of privilege– collective and individual
  • Use of privilege is based on necessity principle- privilege must be such that without it “they could not discharge their functions”
  • Accepting bribes contradicts probity in public life and erodes democratic ideals.
  • Even without a quid pro quo, accepting a bribe constitutes an offense under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • Creating an exceptional class of public servants with extraordinary protection violates Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.
  • Both the court and Parliament could exercise jurisdiction on the actions of lawmakers in parallel.
  • Because the purpose of punishment by the House is different from the purpose of a criminal trial.
+1 Advantage for mains (Supreme Court’s observation on corruption):

·         Corruption and bribery by members of the legislature deprive citizens of a responsible, responsive and representative democracy

P.V. Narasimha Rao v State (CBI/SPE) (The ratio which has been reversed):

·         Legislators enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution for bribery in matters connected to their speech and votes in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies.

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