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Legislative Privileges: Rao & Soren Verdicts



  Apr 17, 2024

Legislative Privileges: Rao & Soren Verdicts



What is parliamentary immunity?

Parliamentary immunity grants legal protections to members of Parliament (MPs) and members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), shielding them from prosecution for actions performed as part of their official duties, particularly speech and voting in legislative bodies.

What was the P.V. Narasimha Rao vs. State case about?

This case addressed whether MPs could claim immunity from prosecution for accepting bribes to influence their votes in Parliament. The initial ruling granted immunity under Article 105(2) of the Constitution, but this decision has been subject to ongoing scrutiny and criticism.

How has the Supreme Court's stance on parliamentary immunity evolved?

The interpretation of parliamentary immunity has become stricter over time. The Supreme Court has emphasized that immunity should not protect MPs and MLAs from prosecution for criminal activities such as bribery, even if these activities are connected to their parliamentary functions.

What was the Sita Soren case?

Sita Soren, a member of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly, was alleged to have accepted a bribe for her vote in a Rajya Sabha election. Initially, she was claimed to be protected by parliamentary immunity under Article 194(2), an analogous provision to Article 105 for state legislators. However, her case highlighted the debate over whether such immunity should cover corrupt practices.

What did the Supreme Court decide in Sita Soren’s case?

The Supreme Court clarified that parliamentary immunity does not cover the act of accepting bribes. The Bench ruled that immunity under Article 105(2) and Article 194(2) does not shield members from prosecution for bribery, emphasizing that corruption undermines the foundational principles of parliamentary democracy.

Can MPs and MLAs be prosecuted for actions taken within Parliament or Legislative Assemblies?

Yes, while MPs and MLAs have immunity for speech and votes within their legislative bodies, this does not extend to criminal actions such as bribery. They can be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act for such offenses.



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