What will change in the cash-for-vote case in 1998? Find out what's the matter
What will change in the cash-for-vote case in 1998? Find out what's the matter

If an MLA or MP gives a speech or votes in the House after taking money, will he be prosecuted or will he be exempted from legal action in such a bribery case under the privilege acquired as a public representative? The Constitution Bench of 7 judges is going to give its verdict on this today. The Supreme Court has also called this a very important case on the question of 'ethics in politics'.

On October 5 last year, after two days of hearing, the Supreme Court had reserved its decision in the case 'Sita Soren vs Government of India'. Today, after almost 5 months, the bench headed by DY Chandrachud is going to decide whether the 1998 order of the Supreme Court was correct or not? Apart from CJI DY Chandrachud, the bench of Justice AS Bopanna, Justice MM Sundaresh, Justice PS Narasimha, Justice JB Pardiwala, Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Manoj Mishra also heard this case.

Will the 1998 decision be overturned?: About 25 years ago, in the 'PV Narasimha Rao vs. CBI case', the Supreme Court had even given immunity to MPs from prosecution in the 'note for vote' case in the House. In a majority decision, the five-judge bench then found that MPs have immunity from criminal prosecution under Articles 105 (2) and 194 (2) for any speech or vote given inside the House.

Due to another case, the decision of 'notes in exchange for votes in the House' has reached the Supreme Court for reconsideration. On September 20 last year, the Supreme Court also talked about reconsidering the 1998 decision on exemption from litigation. Since the 1998 decision was given by a bench of 5 judges with a majority of 3:2. Therefore, only a bigger bench could reconsider that decision. Therefore, a bench of 7 judges came into existence and completed the hearing the very next month. Last year, the Attorney General and Solicitor General presented the Indian Government's side in the Supreme Court, while PS Patwalia also appeared as amicus curiae to assist the court.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Shibu Soren's family remained a common link during the court proceedings on this issue that lasted for almost 30 years from 1993 till now. In the 1993 case, CBI had considered Shibu Soren a culprit in the bribery case. Whereas the recent hearing in the Supreme Court was regarding the bribery scandal involving his daughter-in-law Sita Soren.

Shibu Soren case and Supreme Court: 1991 general elections held. In the results, Congress Party emerged as the largest political party. Narasimha Rao's government was formed. But during the monsoon session of July 1993, a no-confidence motion was also presented against Rao's government. Sensational allegations were made against Shibu Soren and four MPs of his party that they took bribe and voted against the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.

CBI started action against these MPs but the Supreme Court canceled the case citing the immunity given to them from legal action under Article 105(2) of the Constitution. The court said that the purpose of Article 105(2) and Article 194(2) is that members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies should be able to speak or even vote in a free environment without any worry or fear.

Sita Soren case and Supreme Court: This case is said to be related to 2012 Rajya Sabha elections. Sita Soren was then MLA from Jama seat. Sita Soren was accused of taking bribe to vote in the elections. A criminal case has been registered against Sita Soren. He approached the High Court and demanded that the case be quashed, but the High Court rejected his appeal. In its order dated February 17, 2014, Ranchi High Court has refused to quash the criminal case.

Sita Soren had also appealed to the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court. Citing the 1998 decision, Sita Soren has said that just as her father-in-law was exempted from legal action, the country's constitutional provision also exempts her from legal action under the privilege enjoyed in the House. Is it really so? The Supreme Court will answer this question today. Upholding or overturning the 1998 decision of the court is going to decide the political future of many public representatives including Sita Soren.

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