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This case analysis is authored by Prashant Prasad, a second-year law student from University Law College.

Case No.

Appeal (crl.) 1207 of 1997

Equivalent Citation

AIR 1998 SC 2120

Date of Judgment



The Supreme Court of India


S.C. Agrawal, G.N. Ray, A.S. Anand, S.P. Bharucha, S. Rajendra Babu

Facts of the Case 

During the 10th Lok Sabha election which was held in the year 1991, the congress party was the leading party and subsequently, it formed the government with P.V. Narasimha Rao as a Prime Minister. However, everything was going well in the party unless during the monsoon session of Lok Sabha in July 1993 a ‘No Confidence Motion’ was moved against the existing government of P.V. Narasimha Rao. Now, the party was in minority so they gave bribes to a few members of JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) and urge them to vote against the motion. The party somehow managed to defeat the motion with 251 members voting in the favor of the motion and 265 voting against the motion. 

After the motion got defeated the party once again came into power. But on February 28, 1996, a person named Shri Ravindra Kumar of Rashtriya Mukti Morcha filed a complaint with the CBI wherein it was alleged that some members of parliament were bribed during the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha in July 1993. The CBI based on information received registered a complaint under Section 13(2)[1], Section 13(1) (d) (iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act[2] against the Suraj Mandal, Shibu Soren, Simon Marandi, and Shallendra Mahto, members of JMM. In short, a criminal prosecution was launched against the bribe-taking and bribes giving members of the Parliament under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988[3] and Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code[4]. The cognizance was taken by the special Jude Delhi, the person who sought to be charged as aforesaid, filed a petition in Delhi High Court seeking to quash the charge the High court dismissed the petition. Therefore an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court of India and then referred to the constitutional bench. 

Issues of the case 

  1. Whether under Articles 105(1) and 105(2), a member of parliament can claim immunity from prosecution before a criminal court on a charge of bribery concerning the proceeding of the parliament.
  2. Is a member of parliament a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act, of 1988?


Arguments from the Appellant’s side:

  • The counsel from the appellant’s side argued that the immunity under Article 105(2)[5] must be taken into wide sense so that the members of the parliament can exercise their right to vote without any kind of fear.
  • It was further contended by the appellant’s side that offers and acceptance of a bribe do not amount to a criminal offense either under the Indian Penal Code[6] or under the Prevention of Corruption Act[7].
  • Also, neither charge of conspiracy under section 120-B of IPC[8] nor any offense mentioned under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 evokes against them. 

Arguments from the State headed by the Attorney General:

  • The attorney general argued that there are no sets of rules or laws that say whether these particular things fall under the purview of Parliamentary Privileges or not which are being enjoyed by the members of the parliament. This argument relied on the judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court in Brewster[9]. The acceptance of bribes by the members is a breach of the privileges.
  • Along with this many contentions were put forward from both sides which form the basis of the case.


The Five Judge bench split their verdict in the ratio of 3:2; the court has taken judgment based on articles 105(1) and 105(2) in literal interpretation. The court of law increased the scope of these articles and held that the members are immune from any kind of proceedings against them in respect of any vote in the parliament. In this particular case, members who have given the bribe did not enjoy immunity from prosecution. The court further held that based on the literal interpretation of the Articles under question the JMM members who have taken the bribe and voted against the motion are not guilty of corruption. But one member who has taken the bribe but did not vote was held guilty of prosecution.

P.V. Narasimha Rao was acquitted of all charges in the JMM bribery case. The judgment was delivered by a special court in Delhi, India, which found that there was insufficient evidence to support the charges against Rao and others. The judgment was a significant one, as it marked the first time that a former Prime Minister of India was acquitted in a corruption case. The case was widely watched and had a major impact on Indian politics, with many people viewing it as a test of the Indian judiciary’s independence and its ability to deal with high-profile corruption cases. The verdict in the JMM bribery case was seen as a victory for P.V. Narasimha Rao and his supporters, who had argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and aimed at tarnishing his legacy as one of India’s most transformative Prime Ministers. Despite his acquittal, the case remains a matter of public record and continues to be discussed and debated in the Indian media and political circles.

Implications for parliamentary privileges in India regarding this case

The JMM bribery case had important implications for parliamentary privileges in India. Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities that are granted to members of Parliament to enable them to carry out their duties effectively. One of the key privileges is immunity from criminal prosecution for words spoken or acts done in the course of parliamentary proceedings. In the JMM bribery case, some of the accused, who were members of Parliament at the time, claimed that the charges against them were covered by parliamentary privilege and that they could not be prosecuted for bribery and corruption. This argument was rejected by the court, which held that the charges against the accused related to acts that were not covered by parliamentary privilege.

The JMM bribery case, therefore, clarified the scope of parliamentary privilege in India and established that members of Parliament are not immune from prosecution for criminal offenses, including bribery and corruption that are committed outside of parliamentary proceedings. The case was seen as a positive development for accountability and transparency in Indian politics, as it demonstrated that public officials, including members of Parliament, can be held accountable for their actions. The verdict in the JMM bribery case reinforced the principle that no one is above the law and that all citizens, regardless of their status or position, must be subject to the same legal standards and procedures.


The conclusion of the case marked the end of a long and contentious legal battle that had far-reaching consequences for Indian politics. The case was widely watched and was seen as a test of the independence of the Indian judiciary and its ability to deal with high-profile corruption cases. While the verdict was seen as a victory for P.V. Narasimha Rao and his supporters, the case continues to be a matter of public record and remains a source of discussion and debate in India. The JMM bribery case serves as a reminder of the importance of ensuring the transparency and accountability of public officials, and the role that the judiciary can play in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of citizens.


  1. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Section 13(2), Act No. 49 of 1988
  2. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Act No. 49 of 1988
  3. Ibid
  4. Indian Penal Code, 1860, Act No. 45 of 1860
  5. INDIA CONST, art. 105(2)
  6. Supra note iv
  7. Supra note ii
  8. Indian Penal Code, 1860, section 120-B, Act No. 45 of 1860
  9. United State v. Brewster, 33 L Ed 507

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