Supreme Court rules that MPs and MLAs can’t claim immunity for accepting bribes when seeking votes, overturning the 1998 Narasimha Rao verdict

Supreme Court rules that MPs and MLAs can't claim immunity for accepting bribes when seeking votes, overturning the 1998 Narasimha Rao verdict

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The 1998 ruling seemed contradictory because it shielded MPs who took bribes for their votes but allowed prosecution for those who didn’t vote. It stated that MPs or MLAs couldn’t avoid prosecution for taking bribes related to their votes or speeches in Parliament or legislative assemblies.

Supreme Court Reverses 1998 Narasimha Rao Ruling, Allows Prosecution for Vote Bribery

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided to change the 1998 Narasimha Rao ruling. This ruling had protected Members of Parliament who accepted bribes for votes and saved them from being prosecuted for supporting the Narasimha Rao-led Congress government in 1993. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by a bench of seven judges, said that the 1998 ruling was contradictory. It shielded MPs who took bribes and voted accordingly but allowed prosecution of those who didn’t vote.

The Chief Justice, DY Chandrachud, said that MPs or MLAs can’t escape being prosecuted for bribery related to their votes or speeches in Parliament or legislative assembly. In 1998, a group of five judges made a decision in the JMM bribery case. They said that MPs and MLAs couldn’t be prosecuted for taking bribes to speak or vote in the legislature. But the court also said that parliamentary privileges don’t protect bribery, and this decision goes against certain parts of the Constitution.

The judges, led by CJI Chandrachud, explained that corruption and bribery by lawmakers harm India’s parliamentary democracy. Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution talk about the powers and privileges of MPs and MLAs in Parliament and legislative assemblies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it will help keep politics clean. He shared his thoughts on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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