Odishatv Bureau

The Supreme Court on Monday ended the immunity enjoyed by the MPs and MLAs as it overruled the 1998 Narsimha Rao Judgement.

In an unanimous decision by the 7-Judge Bench of Supreme Court, the scope of legislative privileges under Articles 105(2) & 194(2) of Constitution was ended.

Pronounced the judgment, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud said, "In the course of this judgment while analysing majority and minority decision of Narsimha Rao judgment, we disagree and overrule the judgment that parliamentarian can claim immunity."

He further said, "...The judgment of the majority in Narsimha Rao which grants immunity to legislators has a grave danger and thus overruled."

Hence, an MP or MLA can no longer claim immunity from prosecution on a charge of bribery in connection with the vote or speech in the legislative house.

What was the Immunity?

In 1998, a five-judge bench in P.V. Narasimha Rao v State (CBI/SPE) interpreted the above articles literally and held that MPs and MLAs enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution for bribery in matters connected to their speech and votes in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies.

Article 194(2) of the Constitution states:

“No member of the Legislature of a State shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in the Legislature or any committee thereof, and no person shall be so liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of a House of such a Legislature of any report, paper, votes or proceedings.”

Article 105(2) of the Constitution also provides identical immunity to the MPs and MLAs.

Why the SC reconsidered the Narasimha Rao case now?

Sita Soren, an MLA of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) party was accused of accepting a bribe in return for her vote for a candidate during the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections. Later, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case against Soren in connection with the bribe.

However, when Soren moved court, in 2014, the Jharkhand High Court refused to quash the case filed against her by the CBI, leading to an appeal at the Apex Court the same year.

After the verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the Supreme Court's decision in the JMM bribery case, hailing it as a "remarkable judgment" that will uphold the integrity of politics and strengthen public trust in the system.