The Supreme Court on Monday said it was not illegal to have a scheme that allocated funds to state legislators or councillors, but asserted it should be in accordance with its 2010 judgement that outlined safeguards in implementing the MP local area development (MPLAD) scheme.
While upholding the validity of Vidhayak Nidhi Scheme in Uttar Pradesh, which provides for annual budgetary grants to Members of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, the bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the funds were for facilitating development work in their constituencies.
“Elected representatives have a vital role in democracy. They have an intrinsic connection with their constituencies and have a legitimate role to discharge in meeting the development needs of their constituencies,” the bench held, dismissing an appeal filed by a Lucknow-based NGO that challenged the Allahabad high court ruling on the issue.
Under the safeguards laid down by the top court, an elected representative should recommend developmental works in their constituencies within the budget allotted.
The feasibility of the work, estimate of funds, and selection of the implementing agency and supervision of work must be independently determined by a nominated authority or body of the state government.
The SC said panchayati raj institutions in rural areas and municipal bodies in urban areas may be considered as preferred implementing agencies and the plans prepared by the district planning committees may be made available by every district collector to elected representatives.
While allocating funds, the administration must ensure there is no conflict of interest. For example, money should not be released to institutions controlled by the lawmaker or his or her family member. There should be transparency, a mechanism to monitor quality of work and timely completion of the project undertaken to utilise the funds.