A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will begin hearing from Wednesday on five matters, including whether a member of a legislative assembly can escape criminal prosecution for accepting or offering bribe by citing immunity under Article 194(2) of the Constitution.
Other matters before the Constitution bench include the interpretation of Section 24 of the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, whether a citizen is entitled to seek information on the appointment of top court and high court judges and challenge to the restructuring and re-organisation of 19 tribunals that was brought by the 2017 Finance Act.
The question whether Article 194(2) of the Constitution confers any immunity on the members of the legislative assembly for being prosecuted in a criminal case for an offence involving offer or acceptance of the bribe is rooted in the election of two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand in March 2012.
The Jharkhand High Court had by its February 17, 2014 order rejected the plea for quashing a trial court order taking cognizance by one JMM lawmaker Sita Soren for allegedly accepting money from a contestant.
Later, the Election Commission countermanded the election to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand.
In the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, the bench would examine the correctness of the payment of compensation to the landowners whose land has been acquired as well as when the award granting compensation would come into effect.
The matter was referred to the Constitution bench following conflicting judgements by two benches of the top court - each bench with three judges.
Another significant hearing would be a challenge to the Finance Act 2017 relating to the restructuring and re-organisation including the appointment, removal and the service conditions of the members of 19 tribunals.
The Tribunal, Appellate and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017 was brought as a part of the Finance Act, 2017.
The hearing on the appeal by top court's Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) challenging November 24, 2009, Central Information Commission's order directing the CPIO to furnish the information sought by one Subhash Chandra Agrawal on the appointment of judges to top court could bring it in the ambit of Right to Information Act.
The matter was referred to the Constitution bench on August 17, 2016.
The Constitution bench would adjudicate the question "whether the concept of independence of judiciary demands the prohibition of furnishing of the information sought and whether the information sought amounts to interference in the functioning of the judiciary.