RESPONDENT: Union Of India

BENCHES: D.Y. Chanrachud, A.S. Bpanna, M.M. Sundresh, P.S. Narasimha, J.B. Pardiwala, Sanjay Kumar and Manoj Mishra

CITATION: 2024 SCC Online SC 229

IMPORTANT SECTION/ARTICLE: Article 194(2) and 105(2) of the Indian Constitution


The Criminal Appeal originates from a ruling delivered by the Jharkhand High Court on February 17, 2014. On March 30, 2012, a poll was conducted to choose two Rajya Sabha members who will represent the State of Jharkhand. The appellant was a member of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly and belonged to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. The appellant is accused of accepting a payment from an independent candidate in exchange for supporting him with her vote. That being said, as the results of the open voting for the Rajya Sabha seat demonstrate, she voted for a candidate from her own party rather than the accused briber. The contested election round was declared invalid, and a new election was called in which the petitioner once more supported her party’s nominee.The appellant filed a motion with the High Court to quash the criminal accusations brought against her. The appellant invoked Article 194(2) of the Constitution for protection, citing the ruling of this Court’s Constitution bench in PV Narasimha Rao v. State. The appellant was not entitled to the protection under Article 194(2) because she had not voted in favor of the alleged bribe giver, according to the High Court’s decision to reject the criminal proceedings.


  • whether by virtue of Article 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution, Can a Member of Parliament seek immunity from prosecution in a criminal court on a charge of bribery?
  • Does the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 apply to Members of Parliament? If so, who can be named as the sanctioning authority for an MP’s prosecution under the Act?


Arguements from Petitioner’s side: 

Senior counsel Mr. Raju Ramachandran, speaking on behalf of the appellant, stated that the majority ruling in PV Narasimha Rao  is directly applicable to the current situation. Furthermore, he contended that there is no reason to reevaluate the established body of law and that the majority ruling is well-reasoned. In this regard, he made the following submissions:


Giving MPs and MLAs immunity was intended to prevent them from “being oppressed by the power of the crown.” The fear that lawmakers would be detained either before or after they cast a vote or deliver a statement in the legislature that challenges the administration’s long-standing decision to overturn a law in PV Narasimha. The idea of privileges and immunities was introduced with the specific intention of overturning judicial precedents, which is why Narasimha Rao (supra) is unnecessary according to the tests established by this court.
Constitutional rights and exemptions are not against the Rule of Law; rather, they constitute a special feature of our constitutional framework. The majority decision does not go against the rule of law and supports the right of legislators to preserve their dignity.

Arguement from Respondent’s side:

The learned Attorney General of India, Mr. Venkataramani, made a preliminary argument stating that the ruling in PV Narasimha Rao (supra) is not relevant to the current issue. According to him, PV Narasimha Rao (supra) has no bearing on the current situation because an elected member of the legislative assembly exercising their right to vote in a Rajya Sabha election does not come under the purview of Article 194(2). He argues that the protection of speech and behavior related to legislative activities is the main goal of Article 194(2). Consequently, Article 194(2) will not apply to any activity that is unrelated to legislative duties, such as the selection of Rajya Sabha members.

According to Mr. P. S. Patwalia, amicus curiae, the minority’s opinion represents the true legal position, and the majority verdict needs to be reexamined. The majority ruling has wrongly given the phrase “in respect of” a broad interpretation and shielded Members of Parliament from criminal prosecution when they take bribes in exchange for their votes. When an MP commits an offense before to entering the parliament, Article 105 is not intended to elevate them above the law.

Given that the word “any” in Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution confers a unique immunity not afforded to the average individual, it should be interpreted narrowly and not automatically as “everything.”

The phrase “in respect of” needs to be interpreted strictly. It must be linked to “legitimate acts”—speaking or voting in Parliament or before committees—that are a component of the legislative process. Any alternative reading would undermine the public’s confidence in lawmakers and the integrity of the democratic process.


The stare decisis concept is not a rigid legal precept. In suitable instances, a larger bench of this Court may reexamine a prior ruling while keeping in mind the standards established in this Court’s decisions. The majority’s ruling in PV Narasimha Rao (supra), which shields a legislator accused of accepting bribes in exchange for speaking or casting a vote, has significant implications for the general public’s interest, public decency, and parliamentary democracy. If the decision is not reexamined, there is a serious risk that this Court will permit an error to continue.

It is not permissible for an individual legislator to claim privilege in order to avoid punishment for bribery related to a vote or speech in the legislature under Articles 105 and 194. Such a claim to immunity does not pass the twin criteria of being linked to the House’s overall operation and being required for the lawmaker to fulfill their fundamental obligations.

The meanings of “anything” and “any” in Articles 105(2) and 194(2) must be interpreted in light of their accompanying meanings. The phrase “in respect of” refers to something that “comes out of” or “bears a clear relation to,” thus it cannot be used to indicate anything that might even remotely relate to the statement or vote that was made.

Under Article 105(2) and the related provision of Article 194, bribery is not exempt since the act of bribing a member entails a crime that is not necessary for voting or for determining how votes should be cast. The same rule is true for bribery related to a speech before a committee or the house.

Bribery is an infraction that is based on the exchange of illegal gratification and is not dependent on the agreed-upon activity being carried out. It makes no difference if the vote is cast at all or in the predetermined direction. At the moment the legislator takes the bribe, the crime of bribery is considered to have been committed.


A seven judge bench unanamiously held that the ruling in P.V. Narasimha Rao had wide ramifications on public interest, probity in public life and parliamentary democracy and thus it could not allow the error in the case to be perpetuated. The Bench held that corruption and bribery by members of the legislatures erode probity in public life and can not claim immunity under Article 105(2) and 194(2).


A legislator receives immunity when they accept a bribe and vote in the agreed-upon direction, according to the majority’s reading of the relevant problem in PV Narasimha Rao. This is a contrary result of the interpretation. However, there will be legal repercussions for a lawmaker who accepts a bribe but ultimately chooses to cast an independent vote. Such a reading would be against the intent and wording of Articles 105 and 194. So the legislator can not get an immunity under the parliamentry priviledges.

The reference is addressed in the words mentioned above. After providing a response to the legal query made by the High Court’s contested decision in this case, the Criminal Appeal is disposed of in above terms.


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