NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the entitlement of former Members of Parliament (MPs) to pension and other benefits was justified as their dignity had to be maintained even after they completed their tenure as parliamentarians.
The Centre’s response came on a petition by NGO Lok Prahari, which said that 82 per cent of the lawmakers were crorepatis and taxpayers should not be made to bear the burden of their pension, including family pension.To this, the Bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “Let the taxpayers vote them out. Let them do it. We cannot stop them. You are making grand statements. Should we go into the data of how many bureaucrats are ‘crorepatis’. Should we go into it? It is not permissible for us to go into this kind of a debate.”
Referring to the offices of the Election Commissioners, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the MPs, the court said their conditions of working were different and they could not be equated with others getting pension after putting in life-long service.“You can’t make all pensioners one class”, the court said while reserving its order.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that MPs had to nurse their constituencies and contest elections every five years, and for this, they had to travel in their respective constituencies.The AG also told the bench that the Centre had given up the idea of having an independent mechanism to determine the salaries and allowances of MPs.
The petitioner told the court that the issue concerned taxpayers’ money and giving pension and other benefits to former MPs was discriminatory.To this, the bench said, “You cannot compare it like this. Your submission is that equate a bureaucrat with a parliamentarian. We agree with you that this is not an ideal situation.”