The Allahabad High Court on Thursday (03rd September) ruled that the Court cannot direct to make an inquiry with regard to utilisation of the funds released under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
The bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Yogendra Kumar Srivastava observed that the scheme contains sufficient guidelines to maintain transparency in the work to be executed and in case of any grievance, the same may be raised before the appropriate administrative authorities.
Notably, a petition was preferred by way of public interest litigation for making an enquiry against the respondent no. 6 regarding alleged embezzlement of public funds released under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) and further seeking a report to be submitted regarding the allocation of the entire funds in this regard.
The petitioner was a 76 years old person alleged to be a resident of the village.
However, as the court noted, the counsel for the petitioner was not able to point out any reason as to why the petitioner was particularly interested in the release of funds in respect of a particular institution/respondent no 6.
The Court was of the view that the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a scheme formulated by the Government of India which enables Members of Parliament to recommend developmental work in their constituencies with an emphasis on creating community assets based on locally felt needs.
The court further observed that in terms of the scheme, upon the recommendations made by the Members of Parliament, the developmental work is undertaken by the administrative authorities.
In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the court declined to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction and the writ petition was dismissed.
About MPLAD Scheme
It may be noted that the MPLAD scheme was formulated in 1993 (during the Narasimha Rao Government in the Centre) to enable MPs to recommend development works in their constituencies "with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt need".
Under this scheme, the MPs can recommend development programmes involving the spending of Rs 5 crore every year in their respective constituencies. MPs from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including nominated ones, can do so.
Interestingly, this particular scheme was challenged by Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh and an NGO, Common Cause, alleging that in the absence of any guidelines, the funds allocated under the scheme were misused by MPs.
However, On May 6, 2010, a 5-judge bench comprising the then CJ K G Balakrishnan, Justices R V Raveendran, D K Jain, P Sathasivam and J M Panchal delivered the judgment, upholding the vires of the scheme in the case Bhim Singh v. Union of India, (2010) 5 SCC 538. Justice Sathasivam authored the judgment on behalf of the bench.
[Note: To read as to why the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Scheme in 2010, please click here.]
Notably, in 2018, the Central Information recommended the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman to issue appropriate legal framework to bring in more accountability and transparency in the utilization of funds under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
The said order was passed by the then Central Information Commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyalu, while considering two appeals filed by persons who sought information regarding the utilization of MPLADS funds by their respective MPs.
Significantly, in light of the COVID-19 crisis and India-wide lockdown, the Government of India vide Circular No.E-4/2020–MPLADS (Pt II) dated 08.04.2020 and issued by MPLADS Division, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation declared that it had decided not to operate the MPLAD scheme for two consecutive years including the current financial year 2020-2021 and the succeeding one 2021-2022.
"The consolidated amount of MPLAD Funds for 2 years – Rs 7,900 crores – will go to Consolidated Fund of India," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had said.
Case Title: Amar Nath Mishra v. Government Of India And 6 Others
Case No.: PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. - 812 of 2020
Quorum: Justices Pankaj Mithal and Yogendra Kumar Srivastava
Appearance: Advocate Roshni Shukla (for the Petitioner); A.S.G.I., C.S.C., Suchit Tandon (for the respondents)
To read this story in Hindi, please click here
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