Stripped of immunity: SC shows zero tolerance for corrupt lawmakers - The Tribune India

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Stripped of immunity

SC shows zero tolerance for corrupt lawmakers

Stripped of immunity


EMPHASISING the importance of probity in the lawmaking process, a seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has ruled that MPs and MLAs taking bribes to vote or make a speech in the House are not immune from prosecution. The landmark unanimous verdict overrules the 1998 judgment of the court’s five-judge Bench in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) bribery case, whereby lawmakers were granted immunity under Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution. These Articles deal with the powers and privileges of members of Parliament and legislative assemblies. Five JMM MPs had allegedly accepted bribes to help the PV Narasimha Rao government survive a no-confidence motion in 1993.

The court has rightly observed that corruption and bribery of members of the legislature erode the foundation of Indian parliamentary democracy, even as PM Narendra Modi has asserted that the verdict will ensure clean politics and deepen the people’s faith in the system. The judgment comes weeks after the SC annulled the electoral bond scheme, saying that it violated the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to information. The scheme, whose avowed aim was to cleanse political funding, had run into rough weather from the outset due to a glaring lack of transparency.

It’s laudable that the SC is making interventions to clean the Augean stables of Indian politics. Voters expect their representatives to raise issues of public interest in the House, not sell themselves to the highest bidder. The 1998 ruling was flawed as it had given unscrupulous lawmakers the licence to misuse parliamentary privileges to save their skin. The latest judgement is a significant step towards curbing the rampant role of money power in horse-trading and other legislative malpractices.

#Supreme Court


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