Seven-judge bench to re-examine SC's 1998 verdict on immunity to lawmakers for taking bribe for making speech, voting in Parliament
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to re-examine its 1998 judgment in the PV Narasimha Rao case and referred to a larger bench of seven judges to deal with the issue concerning whether a Parliamentarian or legislator can claim immunity from prosecution for accepting bribes for making a speech or vote in a particular manner in the House.
A bench of five headed by the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud referred the matter to a larger bench of seven to deal with the issues observing that it is an important issue having significant bearing on the morality of polity.
"We are of the considered view that the correctness of PV Narasimha Rao shall be reconsidered by a 7-judge bench," the court said.
The court said that the purpose of Article 105(2) and Article 194(2) is to ensure that members of parliament and of state legislatures are able to discharge duties in an atmosphere of freedom without fear of the consequences.
The 7-judge bench will reconsider the ruling in the JMM MPs bribery case, in which the MPs allegedly took bribes to vote in support of the Narasimha Rao Government in 1993.
The court order came after hearing the submission made by lawyers connected to the matter.
The issue arose when the five-judge constitution bench comprising CJI Chandrachud was dealing with the issues.
Other judges on the bench are Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra.
On March 7, 2019, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court referred the matter to a larger bench to consider the issue considering the wide ramifications of the question that has arisen. The court had then observed that the doubts raised and the issue being a matter of substantial public importance, the matter required to be considered by a larger Bench.
The issue was raised while the court was hearing a petition filed by politician Sita Soren. Sita Soren has sought criminal prosecution launched against her to be nullified on a claim of immunity under Article 194(2) of the Constitution of India.
The charges against Sita Soren were that she had allegedly accepted a bribe to vote in favour of a particular candidate in the Rajya Sabha election that was held sometime in 2012 in Jharkhand.