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HomeEditorialMPs should get good perks so that they don’t become corrupt

MPs should get good perks so that they don’t become corrupt

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In 2019, Madhya Pradesh-based activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur filed a RTI query. The Lok Sabha Secretariat’s First Appellate Authority cited Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act which authorises the information holding authority to refuse information if it deems it personal. The reply given was actually very strange. The information, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has informed, was “personal”, so details would not be shared. According to the Finance Bill of 2018, former MPs are entitled to a pension of Rs 25,000 every month if they complete their five-year term. The MPs are entitled to an additional Rs 2,000 for every year served as an MP over the five-year period. Under the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, an MP loses his entitlement to pension and perks in case he is appointed the President, Vice-President, or is re-elected to either House or gets employed in the central or state government.

The Section says that “information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual” may not be shared “unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure.” It also adds that this is “provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.”

The salaries and pensions of parliamentarians are decided by the Parliament through open deliberation and thus, constitute information, which can be placed before Parliament if a member asks for it from the Authority. The RTI query had sought the information of pensions and allowances given to Amarinder Singh, Mehbooba Mufti, Yogi Adityanath, Mamata Banerjee, Sarbananda Sonowal, Nitish Kumar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje, Manohar Parrikar, Kamal Nath, V. Narayanasamy, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot (current Rajasthan deputy chief minister), between 2013 and 2018 December. All of them have been MPs and later went on to become chief ministers except Pilot. After a year-long hearing, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Chelameswar dismissed a petition that sought the scrapping of pension and perks being given to ex-MPs. The court also rejected a plea to regulate the salary and allowances of sitting MPs. The bench was delivering a judgement in an appeal filed by NGO ‘Lok Prahari‘ against the Allahabad High Court order dismissing its plea alleging that pension and other perks being given to MPs even after demitting office are contrary to Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution.

The SC agreed with the findings of the Allahabad High Court that Parliament is competent to legislate on pensions for ex-MPs and has the power to prescribe any condition subject to which the pension may be paid. In the process, what the court cleared for former MPs includes life-long pension, travel facilities, telephone calls, free electricity and water unlimited travel by train along with spouse from any place in India to any other place in the country and up to eight air journeys in a year from the MP’s place of residence to Delhi and back when Parliament is in session.

According to this new SC mandate, the spouse of the MP gets unlimited train travel by first class AC at any time in the year and along associate of the former MP get free AC-II tier pass to accompany him/her in all train journeys. The petition had challenged the constitutional validity of the law and sought its scrapping. “Parliament has no power to provide for pensioners benefits to lawmakers without making any law,” it said. 82 per cent of the lawmakers were “crorepatis” and “the poor tax payers should not be made to bear the burden of their pension including their family pension,” the petitioner NGO said. Backing the pension and other perks for MPs, the Centre had told the court that the entitlement of former MPs to get pension and other benefits was “justified” as their dignity has to be maintained even after they complete their tenure as Parliamentarians. He also informed the bench about the Finance Bill 2018 which contains provisions regarding salary and pension of MPs and also about the revision of their allowances after every five years starting from April 1, 2023 on the basis of cost inflation index. The term of appointment of the Member of Parliament (MP) in India is only five years and hence they get pension after five years.

The term of appointment of government servants including Army and civil services is for 25-40 years i.e. until they become sixty years. They still get a full pension after 20 years. An IRS officer, who served Government of India for 25 years, gets the pension of around Rs 90,000 per month, which is half of the total salary received by him at the time of his retirement. A retired Cabinet Secretary of Government of India gets a pension of more than 1, 25,000 per month. Now compare these pensions with the pension of an MP. MP is paid a base salary of
Rs 50,000 per month and is entitled to a pension of only Rs. 20,000 per month. If a MP serves as a member for a period exceeding five years, this pension increases by 1,500 for each additional year of service.

One term MP thus gets lesser pension than even the clerk who has retired in a government on superannuation. This pension is not even 10 per cent of the benefits, which a sitting MP gets. Such benefits are estimated to be more than Rs 3,00,000 per month. Let our MPs get decent salaries and pension so that they don’t have to engage in corruption. But scenario is completely otherwise, in spite getting paid they are neck deep MPs are the representatives of the people and the most important people in democracies as they represent the people of India.

They deserve much more than what in greed of getting more. Their intent is serving themselves than the people. They are getting lawfully now but for that they really need to serve people coming out of glamour posts; they need to slog for the people and their welfare unconditionally. When politics becomes an opportunity for them, why would they be paid our hard earned money is the question here. People’s representatives just gave themselves financial bonanza. One has to complete 21 years of service to become eligible for pension. Why pension for a peoples representative? It is not a government service. No qualifications fixed. No retirement age. It is for the people to raise questions?

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@www.afternoonvoice.com)

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Tamanhttps://authorvaidehi.com
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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