It seems the people's representatives are oblivious to the fact that making phone calls costs money and they have to pay bills like the man on the street.
Altogether 405 present and former members of Parliament owe Rs 7.30 crore to public sector Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd for bills not paid for years.
Every MP is entitled to two fixed line telephone connections – one in Delhi and other in his or her usual place of residence --- and two mobile phones with national roaming facility. For these telephone services, members get 50,000 free local calls in a year.
In a reply filed under transparency law, the Right To Information (RTI), the MTNL has provided a list of 405 MPs, including six MPs of the present Parliament, who had defaulted on payment.
Among sitting MPs, five are from Congress and one from Janata Dal (United).
Congress MPs on the list are Bhakta Charan Das from Orissa (Rs 3,31,020), GV Harsha Kumar from Andhra Pradesh (Rs 2,06,880), M Krishna Swamy from Tamil Nadu (Rs 3,19,740) and Harsh Vardhan, from Uttar Pradesh (Rs 36,744).
The sole Rajya Sabha MP in the defaulters list is Narender Budhania of Congress from Rajasthan with an outstanding amount of Rs 1,33,777. The non-Congress MP is Ram Sunder Das of Janata Dal (United) from Bihar (Rs 9,49,866).
The remaining outstanding is from former MPs and the MTNL told RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal that action was being taken against the members as per rules. The action being taken is not voluntary. It is as per directions issued by Delhi high court in a public interest litigation filed by a social group Krishak Bharat.
The MPs also owe money to the urban development ministry for using residential accommodation beyond prescribed limit. Among the defaulters listed provided by the ministry is Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar with an outstanding of Rs 1.98 crore for 6 Krishna Menon Marg.