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Landmark SC Ruling Ends MP, MLAs' Immunity On Taking Bribes | Know What Led To The Big Verdict

This verdict overturned the 1998 judgement in the JMM bribery case.

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Supreme Court of India
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In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court on Monday stated that Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who accept bribes for voting or delivering speeches in the House can be prosecuted while emphasising the importance of its ability to reconsider decisions for the organic development of law and the advancement of justice.

This verdict overturned the 1998 judgement in the JMM bribery case.

A seven-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said the doctrine of 'stare decisis', which says court should not lightly dissent from precedent, is not an "inflexible rule of law".

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"The ability of this court to reconsider its decisions is necessary for the organic development of law and the advancement of justice. If this court is denuded of its power to reconsider its decisions, the development of constitutional jurisprudence would virtually come to a standstill," the bench said in its 135-page verdict.

Chronology of events leading up to landmark ruling

The following is the series of events that led to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, which declares that MPs and MLAs can face criminal charges for accepting bribes in return for their votes or speeches in the legislative body.

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April 17, 1998:

A five-judge Constitution bench, by 3:2 majority, held in the the Narasimha Rao vs CBI case, also known as JMM bribery case, that lawmakers have immunity against criminal prosecution for any speech made and the vote cast inside the House under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution

February 17, 2014:

Jharkhand HC refuses to quash criminal case against JMM leader Sita Soren for allegedly taking bribe in Rajya Sabha polls in 2012

September 23, 2014:

A two-judge SC bench places before a larger bench the plea of JMM leader Sita Soren

March 7, 2019:

A three-judge bench refers the issue related to immunity of lawmakers to a larger bench

September 20, 2023:

A five-judge bench refers the issue and reconsideration of the 1998 verdict to a bench of seven judges

October 5, 2023:

The seven-judge bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud reserves judgment

March 4, 2024:

Observing that bribery is not protected by parliamentary privileges, the seven-judge bench overturns five-judge bench's interpretation in the 1998 verdict in the JMM bribery case.

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