New Delhi, Feb 20: The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a “last opportunity” to the Central government to spell out its stand on setting up a permanent mechanism for determining sitting parliamentarians’ salaries and allowances.
Giving a week’s time to the Central government, a bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said the affidavit filed on September 1, 2017 has not made its position clear.
“The Indian government’s policy is dynamic. However, you can’t change it every day,” Justice Chelameswar told senior counsel Ajit Sinha, who appearing for the Centre, said the issue was under the government’s consideration.
“You have not stated your position. Your affidavit in September was not clear about permanent mechanism. When are you going to do it,” Justice Kaul asked as Sinha sought a week, for the last time, for the Centre to firm up its stand.
“What is the government’s view on it? You want it or don’t want it? Your counter-affidavit (response) does not disclose anything.”
Apparently not happy about the dilly-dallying by the Centre on the issue, the court said “you may not have a last word, but you may have a last opportunity” to state your position.
Appearing for NGO Lok Prahari, its General Secretary S.N. Shukla said that it has been 11 years since all parties in a meeting convened by the Lok Sabha Speaker unanimously decided to have a mechanism for fixing the salaries and allowances of the MPs but nothing has moved so far.
The court asked Shukla to let the things rest at where they are as he urged it to call for the file dealing with the issue.
The NGO has told the court that the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament in its report submitted in May 2006 too had recommended the sitting up of a permanent mechanism for the purpose.
Lok Prahari has said that lifetime pension to ex-members of parliament is not mandated by the Constitution and was in gross violation of Article 106 which does not talk about former members.
Article 106 says: “Members of either House of Parliament shall be entitled to receive such salaries and allowances as may from time to time be determined by Parliament by law…”
The NGO approached the top court challenging the Allahabad High Court order of April 20, 2016, by which its Lucknow bench junked its plea holding that it lacked merit.
While seeking to put in place a permanent mechanism, the NGO has sought the withdrawal of lifetime pension to former MPs, citing US politician and Secretary of the Interior from 1913-20 Franklin Knight Lane, who said that a public office is not a job but an opportunity for doing something for the public.
The existing scenario was a glaring example of how the public representatives have converted the position of MP/MLA/MLC into an office of profit for life for themselves and their spouses, it said.
While the Governor does not have pension facility, an MP, even for a day, gets pension for entire life, it said.
The matter will come up for further hearing on March 5.