A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear from September 20 three important matters, including the one which involves the issue of whether an MP or MLA can claim immunity from criminal prosecution for taking a bribe to make a speech or vote in Legislative Assembly or Parliament.
As per a notice uploaded on the apex court website on Tuesday, a constitution bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices A S Bopanna, M M Sundresh, J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra will take up these matters from September 20.
One of the matters which would come up before the constitution bench involves the issue pertaining to the constitutional validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act relating to illegal immigrants in Assam.
Similarly, the other important matter relates to the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of extending reservation to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in Lok Sabha and the state assemblies beyond the original 10 year period contemplated in the Constitution.
The constitution bench would also deal with another matter which involves the question whether an MP or MLA can claim immunity from criminal prosecution for taking a bribe to make a speech or vote in Legislative Assembly or Parliament.
In 2019, a bench headed by then chief justice Ranjan Gogoi had referred to a larger bench the crucial question, noting it had “wide ramification” and was of “substantial public importance”.
The three-judge bench had then said it will revisit its 24-year-old verdict in the sensational Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) bribery case on an appeal filed by Sita Soren, a JMM MLA from Jama constituency in Jharkhand.
The top court, in its 1998 five-judge constitution bench verdict delivered in the PV Narasimha Rao versus CBI case, had held that parliamentarians had immunity under the Constitution against criminal prosecution for any speech made and vote cast inside the house.
The constitution bench would also examine the constitutional validity of section 6A of the Citizenship Act, which was inserted as a special provision to deal with the citizenship of people covered by the Assam Accord.
The provision provides that those who have come to Assam on or after January 1, 1966, but before March 25, 1971, from specified territories, including Bangladesh, as per the Citizenship Act amended in 1985, and since then are residents of Assam, must register themselves under section 18 for citizenship.
As a result, the provision fixes March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
As many as 17 petitions, including the one filed by Assam Public Works in 2009, are pending on the issue in the apex court.
The other issue which would be taken up for hearing by the constitution bench pertains to the extension of reservation to SC/ST in Lok Sabha and state assemblies beyond the original 10 year period.
Article 330 of the Constitution provides for reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the house of people.
The top court had referred the matter to five-judge bench on September 2, 2003, on a batch of pleas challenging the validity of the 79th Constitution amendment Act of 1999 providing reservation to SC/ST in Parliament and state Assemblies.