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JMM bribery case judgment UPSC NOTE

 JMM bribery case judgment of 1998

  • A seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday declared that parliamentary privilege or immunity will not protect legislators who take bribes to vote or speak in Parliament or State Legislative Assemblies from criminal prosecution.

  • Privileges and immunities are not gateways to claim exemptions from the general law of the land... Corruption and bribery of members of the legislature erode the foundation of Indian parliamentary democracy,” the Supreme Court observed.

  • The unanimous verdict authored by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud overruled a 25-year-old majority view of the Supreme Court, laid down in the JMM bribery case judgment of 1998, that lawmakers who took bribes were immune from prosecution for corruption if they go ahead and vote or speak in the House as agreed.

Articles 105 and 194

  • Articles 105 and 194 of the Indian Constitution deal with parliamentary privileges.

  • These articles are essentially special rights and immunities granted to members of the Parliament and state legislatures.

  • Members cannot be held liable for any vote they cast in the House.

Article 194:

  • Applies to members of state legislatures.

  • Grants them privileges identical to those granted under Article 105 to members of Parliament.

  • It's important to note that these privileges are not absolute and can be breached

  • In such cases, a motion of breach of privilege can be filed against the offending individual or entity.

What is the new SC judgement?

  • The shield of immunity or parliamentary privilege could be claimed in two circumstances.

  • One, if the actions of a legislator were meant to enhance the dignity and authority of the House and its members as a collective body.

  • Secondly, if they were in the exercise of his rights to free speech, protest and freedom from arrest, among others. 

  • A claim for immunity would not survive if it failed this two-fold test, the court said.

  • An interpretation which enables an MP to claim immunity from prosecution for an offence of bribery would place them above the law. 

  • This would be repugnant to the healthy functioning of parliamentary democracy and subversive of the rule of law,” Chief Justice Chandrachud observed.

  • Criminal courts and Houses of the legislature have parallel jurisdiction over allegations of bribery. 

  • One cannot negate the jurisdiction of the other.

  • The jurisdiction exercised by a competent court to prosecute a criminal offence and the authority of the House to take action for a breach of discipline in relation to the acceptance

of a bribe by a member of the legislature exist in distinct spheres,” Chief Justice Chandrachud laid down.

  • The reference came in an appeal filed by JMM leader Sita Soren, who was accused of taking a bribe to vote for a particular candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections of 2012.

  • Though she later denied culpability on the ground that she voted for the official nominee of her own party, the CBI had filed a chargesheet in the case. 

  • The Jharkhand High Court had refused to quash the chargesheet, following which she had moved the apex court.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: JMM bribery case judgment UPSC NOTE
JMM bribery case judgment UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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