MLAs, MPs cannot claim immunity in bribe-for-vote cases: Suprem Court

The seven-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, also set aside the 1998 judgment popularly known as PV Narasimha Rao judgement.

In 1998, the five-judge constitution bench in the PV Narasimha Rao versus CBI case, had held that lawmakers had immunity under the Constitution against criminal prosecution for any speech made and vote cast inside the House.

Bribery is not protected by parliamentary privileges and the interpretation of the 1998 verdict is contrary to Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution, the court 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… The judgment of the majority in Narsimha Rao which grants immunity to legislators has a grave danger and thus overruled,” the CJI said calling it a unanimous verdict.

As per the SC orders, now an MP or an MLA can’t claim immunity from prosecution on a charge of bribery in connection with the vote or speech in the legislative house.

“Corruption or bribery by a member of legislature erodes probity in public life,” adding, “Accepting bribes itself constitutes the offence,” ruled the seven-judge bench.

The Apex Court also said that to give any privilege unconnected to the functioning of Parliament or legislature would lead to creating a class that enjoys unchecked exemptions from the operation of law of the land.