Supreme Court's Constitution Bench to hear pleas on Assam NRC, Lok Sabha-State Assembly reservations, immunity for MPs/MLAs in bribery cases

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The three cases that will be heard by the Constitution bench are- Assam Public Works vs. Union of India, Ashok Kumar Jain vs. Union of India, and Sita Soren vs. Union of India

Supreme Court of India has set up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the matter involving the issues of Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC), reservations in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies and immunity for MPs and MLAs from being prosecuted for bribery charges.

A bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud along with Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra will start hearing these cases from September 20, 2023.

The Assam NRC case is on a challenge to the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act which was inserted through an amendment in 1985 in furtherance of the Assam Accord.

Section 6A is a special provision on the citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord and provides that the people who entered India between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, and have been living in Assam, would be allowed to register themselves as citizens of India.

Calling out this provision to be discriminatory, a direction is sought to the concerned authority to update the NRC based on the details incorporated in the NRC prepared in 1951 as opposed to updating the same by taking account of the electoral rolls prior to March 24, 1971.

In Ashok Kumar Jain vs. Union of India a challenge lies to the validity of the 79th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1999, which altered Article 334 of the Constitution to allow reservations to the AngloIndian community, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

Lastly, a plea was filed by Sita Soren, a member of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, who was accused of accepting bribe for voting in favour of a particular candidate in the 2012 Rajya Sabha Elections. 

Soren filed a petition before the Jharkhand High Court stating that she enjoyed immunity under Article 194(2) of the Constitution, 1950, as per which 'no member of the Legislature of a State shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in the Legislature'.

While the High Court had dismissed her petition, she approached the top court in appeal.