SC junks plea against life-long perks to ex-MPs

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging life-long pension and other perks given to former Members of Parliament (MPs). DH file photo

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging life-long pension and other perks given to former Members of Parliament (MPs).

It said these questions are in the orbit of the wisdom of Parliament to decide if such benefits are rational in view of the affluent financial status of some of them or poverty of the millions of people.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said these are “not justifiable issues”, relying upon the 1985 ruling in 'Dr P Nalla Thampy Terah vs Union of India & Others' wherein the apex court held "we cannot negate a law on the ground that we do not approve of the policy which underlies it".

The top court dismissed an appeal filed by NGO Lok Prahari through its general secretary S N Shukla, challenging an Allahabad High Court judgement that had rejected the plea against pension, family pension, unlimited train travel facilities, telephone calls, electricity and water bills to the ex-MPs.

The NGO challenged the validity of the amendments made to the ‘Salaries, Allowances and Pensions of the Members of Parliament Act, 1954’ on the ground of being violative of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution. It contended that Constitution-makers made provisions for the pension to certain constitutional functionaries and not to others.

It does not lead to the conclusion that the Constitution by its silence prohibits the payment of pension to other constitutional functionaries, the court said.

“The framers knew history and the attempts of the men in power to subjugate the holders of such offices. Safeguards, therefore, were provided in respect of the various aspects of the tenure and other conditions of service relevant for their offices. When it comes to MPs, however, such a higher degree of constitutional protection is not obviously required as the authority to make laws rests only with them,” the bench said.

In respect of MPs and ex-MPs, the court said the expression “allowances” occurring under Entry 73 of the List I of the Seventh Schedule, was wide enough to cover the payment of pension. It also said even otherwise, the authority of Parliament under Entry 97 of the List I was wide enough to cover the legislation in this regard.

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