SC Reserves Judgment On Plea Against Present System Of Salaries And Allowances Of MPs, Pension Of Former MPs

SC Reserves Judgment On Plea Against Present System Of Salaries And Allowances Of MPs, Pension Of Former MPs

A Supreme Court bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Wednesday reserved the verdict on NGO Lok Prahari’s plea to scrap the amendments made by Parliament to the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 and also of the provisions to provide pension and for the grant of facilities to former members of Parliament.

The bench reserved it after hearing the arguments from petitioner SN Shukla and Attorney General KK Venugopal, who appeared for Centre.

Advancing his arguments, the AG submitted that the Centre has given up the idea of setting up of a permanent mechanism to periodically revise salary of Members of Parliament.

He said there may be demands for such mechanisms for other constitutional functionaries which would lead to complications.

Earlier, the bench had expressed displeasure over the Centre for not making its stand clear on the issue of an independent body up fix salaries and perks for MPs.

In the meantime, the senior-most law officer of the government also justified the pension and other perks given to former MPs and their family members.

He argued that it was needed for them to live with dignity after completing their tenure in Parliament.

The petitioner, however, argued to scrap pension scheme for ex-MPs, saying that 82 percent of MPs at present are crorepatis and why taxpayers’ money be used for them.

“It is discriminatory to give them the pensions. Even the government stopped pensions to regular employees since 2014. They get pension when they contribute it from their salary during their tenure,” Shukla argued.

To this, the bench said: “Even bureaucrats are crorepatis and taxpayers can always throw MPs out. We can't go into such debate.”

The NGO had filed an appeal against the Allahabad High Court’s April 2016 order dismissing a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 and also of the provisions to provide pension and Perks to former members of Parliament.

While dismissing the petition, the high court had said the argument that Article 106, which empowers Parliament to legislate on salaries and allowances of its members, is confined only to salary and allowances payable to members and it does not speak about pension, was rejected.

It said these matters lie in the province of the legislature and there is no constitutional prohibition on Parliament adopting such a measure of social security for its former members.

It also rejected the challenge against the grant of facilities and benefits to those who have ceased to be Members of Parliament.

The bench held that MPs are elected representatives of the people, chosen to represent their constituencies in the august hall of debate and discourse that represents the essence of Indian democracy.

Members of Parliament are elected by the people as representatives: persons who represent the voice and aspirations of the people whom they represent.