A day after the Union Cabinet left the decision to set-up a wage commission for Members of Parliament to the next Lok Sabha, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Friday slammed the government, saying, “India was the only democracy in the world where MPs decided their own salaries.”
The proposal, mooted by the Speaker nearly three years back, and supported by all political parties, was aimed at constituting a wage panel for fixing the salaries, allowances and pensions of MPs by amending the present law.
The Union Cabinet, on Thursday decided to leave the fresh proposal on MPs’ salaries to the next Lok Sabha. Government sources said the cabinet was of the view that since the term of the present Lok Sabha was nearing its end, it would be prudent to leave the matter to the new house.
The government reasoning has failed to satisfy the Speaker, who went public with his displeasure, saying, “I am extremely unhappy at the complete misreading of my proposal, which in no way was connected with the salary hike for MPs”.
Presently, the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, determines the MPs’ perks. The government brings an amendment Bill in Parliament whenever it proposes to hike their salaries. The last such hike was done in 2006.
To put an end to widespread criticism that Parliamentarians made laws for their own benefits, the Speaker had been pressing for a mechanism that would put an end to such perceptions.
The proposal was to have a commission, headed by an eminent public personality, and four other members, who would recommend the perks for MPs, after a fixed period, depending on inflationary trends.
“It is a matter of great sorrow that a resolution unanimously adopted at an all-party meeting attended by 30 leaders in March 2005, including Pranab Mukherjee and Ghulam Nabi Azad, along with Leader of the opposition, LK Advani has not been considered,” Chatterjee said.