The Kerala government’s plea to withdraw criminal cases against the Left-front MLAs for creating ruckus in the assembly was rejected by Supreme Court.
The MLAs were involved in violent actions against the speaker of the assembly during 2015 assembly session. Charges were filed for their actions.
The government argues that MLAs are protected from prosecution under Article 194 of the Constitution of India.
Article 194 concerns the powers and privileges of the legislative assembly and also the members of the assembly.
The article says that member of legislative assembly cannot be liable for court proceedings for anything said or done on the floor of the house, including voting.
These are rights and immunity enjoyed by members of legislature of the state or union. They will be protected from both civil and criminal charges for any action they did while performing legislative duties.
The Supreme Court judgment
The court said that legislative privileges do not give memnbers protection from criminal laws. This effectively dismissed the Kerala government’s petition.
The High court had already upheld a trial court’s decision to charge MLAs under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984.
The court said that there was a misconception that elected representatives are above the general application of criminal law.
The left front MLAs were involved in vandalizing the speaker’s dais. They also damaged microphone, electronic system and computer system of the assembly.
The speaker had initiated disciplinary action against the MLAs by suspending them and criminal charges framed. The Chief Minister had also demanded actions against the MLAs.