Supreme Court to Revisit Legislative Immunity on Bribery
Indian Polity– For Prelims: Article 105(2), Article 194(2), Parliamentary Privileges and Mains Exam
The P V Narasimha Rao case from 1998, which was decided by a five-judge Constitution Bench, has been referred by the Supreme Court of India to a seven-judge Bench for review.
The issue concerns the interpretation of Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution, which grant members of Parliament and State Legislatures protection from criminal prosecution on bribery accusations for any remarks or votes made in the House as well as parliamentary privilege. The judgement was made in a different instance involving allegations of bribery against an MLA who had cited Article 194(2) to have the charge sheet and criminal proceedings thrown out.
Case of PV Narasimha Rao v/s State,1998
The 1993 Jharkhand Mukti Morcha(JMM) bribery case is referred to as the P V Narasimha Rao case. In this instance, Shibu Soren and a few other MPs from his party were charged with accepting bribes in order to vote against a motion of no confidence against the P V Narasimha Rao administration.
- No-confidence motions are big political occurrences that often take place when it appears that the government is losing support from the majority of the population.
- The Supreme Court has dismissed the complaint against the JMM MPs, claiming their constitutional protection under Article 105(2).
Articles 105(2) and 194(2)
- No member of Parliament shall be subject to any proceedings in any court with respect to anything said or any vote cast by him in the House of Representatives or any of its committees, and no person shall be subject to such liability with respect to the publication of any report, paper, votes, or proceedings by or under the authority of either House of Parliament.
- Article 105(2)’s goal is to guarantee that lawmakers may carry out their responsibilities without worrying about repercussions.
No member of a State legislature shall be subject to any proceedings in any court with respect to anything said or any vote cast by him in the legislature or any committee thereof, and no person shall be subject to such liability with respect to the publication of any report, paper, votes, or proceedings by or under the authority of a House of such a legislature.
The Matter to a 7-Judge Bench
Because it saw the necessity to reevaluate the validity of its prior 1998 constitution bench judgement in the PV Narasimha Rao case, the Supreme Court assigned the issue to a 7-judge Bench.
- Articles 105(2) and 194(2) are there to make sure that members of Parliament and State Legislatures may carry out their responsibilities freely and without worrying about the repercussions of their words or votes.
- The goal is not to grant lawmakers more privileges, such as protection from the nation’s broad criminal code.
The two Houses of Parliament, its committees, and their members are granted specific rights, immunities, and exemptions known as “parliamentary privileges.” The Indian Constitution’s Article 105 defines certain rights.
- Members of Parliament are protected by these privileges from civil responsibility for statements made or actions taken while performing their official responsibilities, but not from criminal culpability.
- Only when a person is a member of the house can they make use of the privileges.
- The privileges are stated to be terminated once s/he becomes a member.
Freedom of Speech in Parliament– A member of the parliament is not entitled to the same freedom of speech and expression that a citizen is under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.According to Article 105(1) of the Indian Constitution, it is guaranteed. Freedom, however, is constrained by the laws and decrees that govern parliamentary activities.
Limitations: According to Article 118 of the Constitution, the right to free expression must be in compliance with the constitution and be subject to parliamentary norms and regulations. Members of parliament are prohibited from discussing the behaviour of Supreme Court or High Court judges while they are carrying out their official responsibilities, according to Article 121 of the Indian Constitution.
The sole exception is if a move is made to send a letter to the president asking for the judge to be dismissed.
Freedom from Arrest: Members are not subject to arrest in any civil action 40 days prior to and following the house’s adjournment or while a session is in session. The house must approve any arrest made inside the boundaries of the Parliament.
- The chairman or speaker should be informed by the responsible authorities of the reason for the arrest whenever any members of the parliament are taken into custody.
- But under the Preventive Detention Act, the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), the National Security Act (NSA), or any other similar law, a member may be detained beyond the boundaries of the home if there are criminal accusations brought against him.
Publication of Proceedings: According to Article 105(2) of the Constitution, no one may be held responsible for publishing any reports, discussions, etc., made by the house with a member’s permission. It is crucial that the public be informed of the proceedings since they are of the utmost and national importance so that they are aware of what is happening in the parliament.
The members of the house have the authority and right to prevent guests and other non-members from participating in the proceedings. This right is crucial for ensuring fair and open debate in the house.
Source- Indian Express