Court notice over MP allowances

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the central government on a plea seeking direction that MPs not be allowed reimbursement of their travel expenses more than the actual amount they have spent.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the central government to explain "why extra allowances are allowed to MPs".

Seeking response from the central government, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariat and ministry of law and justice, the court posted the matter for Jan 23, 2013.

The PIL was filed by B.N.P Singh, a retired wing commander and general secretary of civil society group Veteran's Forum for Transparency in Public Life. Singh challenged some provisions of salary and allowances available to MPs.

The PIL sought direction to "quash some provisions of the salary, allowances, pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 and the rules made thereunder in this regard as being unconstitutional and ultra vires to the constitution of India".

The action on the part of the government allowing the MPs to seek reimbursement of more money than they actually spent (Rs.1.25 or more is reimbursed on Re.1 spent) on their travel expenses was "most illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory", said advocate Sitab Ali Chaudhary appearing for the petitioner.

The plea claimed that even the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are allowed reimbursement of only the actual expenses incurred by them on their travel and not in the ratio as MPs are getting.

Allowing the MPs to get more money than they actually spent is in gross violation of the legal and fundamental rights of the citizens of India which is also violation of principles of "transparency and accountability" and the principles of "performance with efficiency without corruption" in public life, the plea said.

The petition sought directions from central government to audit TA and DA of the MPs of both the houses by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

"The petition is being filed challenging the constitutional validity as unconstitutional and ultra vires to the constitution India Section 4 (1)(a), 4 (1)(b) & 4 (1)(c) of the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 and the rules made thereunder whereby the members of the parliament are allowed to reimburse more than the actual amount spent on their journey and putting the unnecessary and unjust burden on the exchequer as well as on the tax payers beside being the most illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory," it said.

The plea further stated that apart from the reimbursement of TA/DA, the MPs are also getting their monthly salaries, daily allowances, office expenses, free telephone and electricity, water bills etc. Therefore they should not be allowed to get more amount of money than the amount of money they actually spent in any manner.

There is a casual and vague approach by granting reimbursement of the travel expenses claimed by the MPs without any cross−checking and tax−payers' money is being misused, said the public interest litigation (PIL).

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