3 decades after JMM bribery scandal, SC to revisit verdict on MP, MLAs' immunity from prosecution for taking bribe to vote
The Supreme Court said on Wednesday it will take up on November 15 the question whether an MP or MLA can claim immunity from criminal prosecution for taking bribe to deliver a speech or vote in an assembly or Parliament.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice S A Nazeer said the matter needs to be examined.
''We will examine the case on November 15, 2022,'' the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian, and B V Nagarathna said.
In 2019, a bench headed by then chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna had referred to a five-judge bench the crucial question with ''wide ramification'' and of ''substantial public importance''.
The three-judge bench headed by Gogoi had then said it will revisit its 24-year-old verdict in the sensational Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) bribery case on an appeal filed by Sita Soren, a JMM MLA from Jama constituency in Jharkhand.
She had appealed against the Jharkhand High Court order of February 17, 2014, refusing to quash a criminal case lodged against her for allegedly taking bribe to vote for a particular candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections held in 2012. She was charged by CBI for allegedly taking bribe from one candidate and voting for another.
Sita Soren is the daughter-in-law of JMM chief and former union minister Shibu Soren, who was involved in the alleged JMM bribery case.
In 1993, four JMM MLAs and eight other MPs were allegedly bribed to ensure the survival of the then P V Narasimha Rao government during a no-confidence vote. They voted accordingly, and when the scandal broke, claimed immunity from criminal prosecution because their act of voting had happened inside Parliament.
After a long-drawn legal battle, the Supreme Court upheld the immunity of MPs from legal proceedings for the speeches they make or votes they cast in Parliament.
Nearly three decades after one of the most unsavoury episodes in India's Parliamentary history, the apex court will revisit its verdict on a plea by Sita Soren, daughter-in-law of Shibu Soren, the still influential chief of Jharkhand's ruling party.
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