Lawmakers' duties not defined, reveals transparency law query

Dev Ashish Bhattacharya in an RTI application to the Lok Sabha in February asked whether there was a provision or rule through which MPs' duties  and responsibilities could be defined.

Bhattacharya also filed a query with legislative assemblies in various states inquiring about provisions that define the responsibilities of legislators.

"As far as the duties for MPs are concerned provision of basic amenities and maintenance of law and order in their respective constituencies is the responsibility of the state governments, no record with regard therto is maintained in the secretariat," said deputy secretary of the Lok Sabha in a reply to the query.

“The assemblies had the same answer to share,” Bhattacharya said. According to Bihar legislative assembly, there is no provision or rule through which the duties and responsibilities of legislators are fixed.

However, a provision for legislator's constituency development fund has been made and every lawmaker is authorised to allocate a specific amount for developing basic amenities.

The Bihar assembly said: "There is no provision in the law through which the accountability can be fixed on non-performing MLAs for their failure to perform their legal duties."

Similar answers were given by West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Puducherry legislative assemblies.

The Sikkim legislative assembly said: "There are some provisions in rules of procedure and conduct of business in Sikkim legislative assembly on the duties and responsibilities of MLAs. The prime duty of MLAs is to maintain communal harmony and peace among the people of their constituencies."

"The constitutional provision provides accountability of ministers to the house in the form of assembly sessions,” the reply added.

The RTI activist's query comes at a time when the government Tuesday said it was trying to bring a bill for a pay hike of over 300 percent for MPs in the current session of parliament.

At present, an MP gets Rs.16,000 per month as salary, but the parliamentary affairs ministry has suggested raising it to Rs.50,000 as against the Rs.80,001 recommended by a parliamentary panel which would be one rupee more than what a secretary-level government official gets.

Besides the base salary, an MP gets a daily allowance of Rs.1,000 for each day when parliament is in session or a sitting of a house committee is scheduled.

A member is also entitled to a constituency allowance of Rs.20,000 per month and an office expense allowance of Rs.20,000 each month.

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