No immunity to MPs, MLAs in bribes-for-vote: Supreme Court

On Monday, the supreme court reversed a 1998 decision that shielded legislators from punishment for accepting payments to give speeches and cast votes in the assembly. A seven-member constitution panel led by indian Chief Justice DY Chandrachud delivered the unanimous decision. "We have independently adjudicated on all aspects of the controversy," stated the Chief Justice. Do Members of parliament have immunity? On this point, we defy the majority and disagree."

In 1998, a five-member panel decided that, according to parliamentary privileges granted by Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution, MPs and MLAs could not be prosecuted for accepting payments to give speeches or cast votes in the legislature.
However, jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Sita Soren claimed Article 105 immunity in an appeal filed in 2012 after she was charged with receiving a bribe in exchange for a rajya sabha vote in that particular year.
However, the appeal was turned down by the jharkhand High court and was then appealed to the supreme Court.
After a two-day hearing, a seven-judge supreme court bench reserved its decision in october 2023.

Chief Justice Chandrachud stated that "bribery is not rendered immune under Article 105" in addition to pronouncing the ruling on Monday.
"Corruption and bribery by members of the legislature erode probity in public life," he stated.
Additionally, he stated that accepting a bribe for "illegal gratification does not depend on whether the speech or vote is given later."
"The offence is complete when a legislator accepts a bribe."

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