Explained: Why MPs/MLAs Get Legislative Immunity?

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It's essential to note that parliamentary immunity is not absolute and has limitations. It typically does not cover criminal acts unrelated to legislative duties, and lawmakers can still be held accountable for certain offenses once their immunity is lifted or in cases where the alleged actions fall outside the protected scope. The goal is to strike a balance between protecting legislators' ability to perform their duties and ensuring accountability within a democratic framework.

New Delhi (ABC Live): New Delhi (ABC Live): A seven-Judge Bench of Supreme Court of India on March 4, 2024 unanimously held that a lawmaker does not enjoy immunity under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution against bribery in case titled Sita Soren v Union of India.

Parliamentary immunity, also known as legislative immunity or legislative privilege, serves several important purposes in democratic societies. The key reasons behind the establishment of parliamentary immunity include:

Freedom of Speech and Debate: Parliamentary immunity protects legislators from legal repercussions for their statements and actions made during official legislative proceedings. This is crucial for fostering open and uninhibited debate within legislative bodies. It ensures that lawmakers can express their opinions freely without fear of being sued or prosecuted for their words.

Independence of the Legislative Branch: Parliamentary immunity helps maintain the independence of the legislative branch from undue influence or interference by the executive or judicial branches. Lawmakers should be able to carry out their duties without the threat of legal action designed to stifle their independence or intimidate them.

Protection of Democratic Process: By shielding legislators from certain legal consequences, parliamentary immunity aims to safeguard the democratic process. Elected representatives need the freedom to voice diverse opinions, represent their constituents, and participate in decision-making without fear of legal retribution that could hinder the democratic functioning of the government.

Avoidance of Harassment: Parliamentary immunity protects lawmakers from potential harassment through legal actions that may be brought against them for their official acts or statements. This protection helps prevent strategic or politically motivated legal challenges that could disrupt the legislative process.

Encouragement of Public Service: Offering some level of immunity to legislators encourages individuals to participate in public service by becoming lawmakers. Knowing that they have a degree of legal protection can attract capable and committed individuals to serve in legislative roles without the constant fear of legal consequences for their official actions.

It's essential to note that parliamentary immunity is not absolute and has limitations. It typically does not cover criminal acts unrelated to legislative duties, and lawmakers can still be held accountable for certain offenses once their immunity is lifted or in cases where the alleged actions fall outside the protected scope. The goal is to strike a balance between protecting legislators' ability to perform their duties and ensuring accountability within a democratic framework.

Also, Read Explained: How Immunity for Lawmakers Facing Bribery Charges Reached SC?

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