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PM Modi followed JMM case as SC adopted government’s propositions

Published:

NEW DELHI: Shortly after

Narendra Modi

became PM, SC in September 2014 referred to a three-judge bench the need for reconsideration of 1998 judgment in P V Narasimha Rao case that inexplicably shielded MPs who took bribe to vote in Parliament from prosecution citing the immunity clause under Article 105 of the Constitution.

Since then, PMO has assiduously followed the developments — reference of the issue to a 5-judge bench in March 2019 and subsequently to a 7-judge bench in September 2023.

PMO was of the view that the majority view in Rao judgment put a premium on corruption among MPs and MLAs, be it for voting or asking questions in the

House

, and had suggested to solicitor general

Tushar Mehta

to make an all-out attempt to persuade the 7-judge bench to overrule the 1998 ruling.
A comparison of the written submissions filed by

Mehta

before the 7-judge bench during the arguments, which was in sync with the line of arguments advanced by amicus curiae, senior advocate

P S Patwalia

, reveals a perfect match between the SG’s line of submissions and the reasoning given by the 7-judge bench led by

CJI

D Y

Chandrachud

on Monday.

The sync between govt’s line of argument and research material and propositions marshalled on the one hand and CJI Chandrachud-led bench’s unanimous 135-page judgment on the other, was reflected in PM’s swift message on X, welcoming the landmark verdict which said an MP/MLA, who accepts bribe for casting vote or asking questions in the House or making submissions before House committees, would enjoy no immunity from prosecution under Articles 105(2) and 194(2).

The SG had argued that “apart from being a product of parliamentary power, parliamentary privilege is a product of parliamentary function” and postulated that privileges of the members are linked to their functioning in the House and that taking bribe was not an action remotely linked to their duties in the House.
In the judgment, the CJI wrote, “The evolution of parliamentary privileges as well as jurisprudence of this court establish that members of the House or indeed the House itself cannot claim privileges which are not essentially related to their functioning. To give any privilege unconnected to the functioning of Parliament or legislature by necessity is to create a class of citizens which enjoys unchecked exemption from ordinary application of the law. This was neither the intention of the Constitution nor the goal of vesting Parliament and legislature with powers, privileges, and immunity.”
Apart from the acceptance of propositions, research material relating to case laws, in India and jurisdictions of UK, US, Canada and Australia, and the arguments put forward by Mehta also found a louder echo in the lucid judgment of the CJI.
The SG had argued, “The purpose of parliamentary privilege is to permit members of legislature to speak freely and express their opinion on political issues and not to worry about retaliation based on political motives.”

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