Supreme Court frames new Constitution Bench to hear 3 key cases

File Photo
File Photo

Srinagar, Sep 5: A new Constitution bench has been formed by the Supreme Court to hear three cases starting September 20, a report said.

The bench will be headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and will also comprise Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, reported Bar and Bench.

It will hear the case of Assam Public Works vs Union of India & Ors which deals with the question of whether Section 6A of the 1955 Citizenship Act suffers from any constitutional infirmity.

The said provision provides a framework for regularising or expelling alleged illegal immigrants in Assam, based on their date of migration. The matter assumes significance in the backdrop of the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation exercise under way in the State, the report said.

Another case to be heard is Ashok Kumar Jain vs Union of India and ors, which deals with reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha.

“The petitioner has challenged their extension beyond the initially planned ten years, arguing it is violative of Article 14. The matter was referred to a five-judge bench in 2003, with the then question of law framed as under: Does the extension of the reservation period for SC/STs and Anglo-Indians from 50 years to 60 years under the 79th Constitutional Amendment violate the Right to Equality?”

The case of Sita Soren vs Union of India deals with the question of if the legal immunity given to MLAs and protects them from prosecution for taking a bribe even if the amount was not used as per the demand of the bribe-giver.

“The matter will decide whether the majority opinion in the PV Narasimha Rao case, which upheld a similar validity for parliamentarians, was correctly decided or not,” the report added.

Senior Advocate PS Patwalia is the Amicus Curiae in the case, assisted by advocate Gaurav Agarwal.

Article 194(2) provides for immunity to a member of the State Legislature from being prosecuted for any vote cast by them.

The petitioner in the case , Sita Soren, sister-in-law of current Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, was accused of taking a bribe.

A complaint was filed in 2012 with the Chief Election Commissioner of India seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the same.

Sita Soren was charged with the offences of criminal conspiracy and bribery under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and for criminal misconduct by a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Jharkhand High Court in 2014, while hearing her plea seeking quashing of the case, noted that the petitioner had not cast her vote for the person for which she was bribed in the first place.

The High Court held that immunity does not apply since no direct nexus existed between voting and the bribe existed. This led to the present appeal before the Supreme Court.

The appellant has contended that the decision in PV Narsimha Rao should be interpreted broadly so that politicians can speak their mind without fearing court action.

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