The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to examine whether pension and allowances such as unlimited free train travel should be given to former MPs and MLAs.
A bench headed by justice J Chelameswar issued notices to the Centre, secretaries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Election Commission and the attorney general on a
plea filed by an NGO, Lok Prahari, seeking a judicial order to scrap allowances given to former lawmakers.
The NGO moved the top court after the Allahabad high court rejected its plea.
Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, who was a day earlier asked by the court to assist in the case, said that there were no guidelines for such allowances for former lawmakers.
She pointed out that a government employee has to contribute to a pension fund for availing post-retirement benefits. In the case of lawmakers, she said, money is spent from a consolidated government fund, which is taxpayers’ money.
“We have seen an era where MPs after serving in public life for long have died as paupers,” the bench remarked before issuing notices. Facilities and allowances must be reasonable and not arbitrary, it said.
Questioning the various provisions of law framed by Parliament, the petitioner alleged that the perks granted to ex-MPs, MLAs and MLCs were unreasonable and should be withdrawn.
“While the governors do not have the facility of pension at all, an MP even for a day and his spouse get pension for life. While even serving judges of the Supreme Court and high courts do not have the facility of free air/train travel for their spouses even on official tours, ex-MPs enjoy unlimited free train travel for life in AC-II with a companion 365 days a year,” the petition said.
A former MP, the petitioner said, becomes an unwarranted burden on citizens. The NGO said it was not their birthright to fleece the public whom they no longer represent.
“Politics has become the most lucrative profession even for the scum of the society,” former bureaucrat SN Shukla, also the general secretary of the NGO, told the bench.