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Daughter-in-law's plea scuppered verdict that protected Shibu Soren

Source: PTI
March 04, 2024 23:57 IST
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The hotly debated 1998 JMM bribery case judgment, which protected former Union minister Shibu Soren from prosecution, was overturned by a seven-judge bench on Monday, ironically following a petition by his MLA daughter-in-law Sita Soren.

IMAGE: Sita Soren.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud overruled the 1998 verdict, which held the field for 26 years, and ended the immunity enjoyed by  lawmakers who vote or make speeches in the House after accepting bribe.


The verdict by the bench -- also comprising Justices A S Bopanna, M M Sundresh, P S Narasimha, J B Pardiwala, Sanjay Kumar and Manoj Misra -- came as a setback to Sita Soren, who can now be prosecuted in a bribery case. She has been accused of taking a bribe to vote for a particular candidate in the 2012 Rajya Sabha polls. She, however, did not vote for the candidate.

In July 1993, Shibu Soren and four of his MPs had accepted bribes to vote against the no-confidence motion against the then PV Narasimha Rao government. The Narasimha Rao government, which was in a minority, survived the no-confidence vote with their support.

Sita Soren is the widow of the late Durga Soren, Shibu Soren's eldest son.

The issue of immunity to lawmakers had once again come under the apex court's lens in 2019, when a bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing an appeal filed by Sita Soren, JMM MLA from Jama. 

She had contended before the apex court that the constitutional provision granting lawmakers immunity from prosecution and the 1998 verdict, which saw her father-in-law being let off the hook in the JMM bribery scandal, be applied to her.

She had moved the apex court against the Jharkhand high court order of February 17, 2014, refusing to quash the criminal case lodged against her.

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