By Anjali Bisht, Law College Dehradun.

The news that’s garnered hype nowadays is the proposed hike in the salary for the Members of the Parliament in India. There is  no official statement yet given on the said proposal but, the “news” that’s making rounds in the Indian galore is that the Parliamentary panel has set forward a proposal to straight away “double” the salary of the MPs and increase the pension to as much as 75%. Around 60 recommendations have been made  by the Joint Committee and proposed to the Government. Another noteworthy fact about the recommendations includes an automatic pay revision mechanism for Parliamentarians like there exists for the pay commission of the government employees.

Now, one can only ponder that when at present, a sitting MP gets a monthly salary of Rs 50,000 and Rs 2000 as the daily allowance for attending the House during Parliament sessions that eventually makes an annual package of Rs 27 lakh, a flat in Delhi with free maintenance and subsidized food and in case there is a bungalow, as availed by the senior MPs, the perks enjoyed by them usually exceed the said salary because in a two-acre bungalow, the plinth area is unlikely to exceed 4,000 square feet and rest are extensive lawns, whose maintenance only can add up to the cost of Rs 20,000-25,000 a month; then what on earth can cause a necessity for increase in an already overpaid salary. The last revision of the salary of the MPs was done in 2010 and the Parliamentary panel stated that unlike the government employees they do not get any dearness allowance.

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A panel headed by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has recommended the following changes –

  1. Former MPs should be entitled for 20-25 free domestic air travel in a year and increase in pension from Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000 per month.
  2. Each sitting MP should get an additional free air conditioned first class railway pass for their companion, such as private secretary as at present, only the MPs and their spouses are entitled for first class AC travel.
  3. The MPs should get an amount equal to first class rail ticket, which is informally known as pocket money. Parliamentarians now get allowance equivalent to fare of one second class AC ticket.
  4. For air travel the panel has recommended that the allowance should be equal to one full ticket fare.
  5. The panel has also reportedly batted for better facilities for MPs at airports where they can be facilitated.
  6. The committee has suggested that the health benefits that MPs get under the Central Government Health Scheme should be extended to their children and grandchildren as well.[1]

The Joint Committee was headed by BJP MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath and included 15 members in total out of which 10 were from Lok Sabha and 5 from Rajya Sabha. The committee had five sittings before it handed over its report to Lok Sabha Speaker, Ms Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha Chairman, Mr Hamid Ansari. Its meetings were held on 16th February this year and on September 26, October 20, November 17 and December 15 in 2014. The proposal will be discussed by  both the houses of Parliament once the Joint Committee adopts it. There have been talks that the proposals “not accepted” by the government include :

  1. 125 per cent of airfare to members who travel by train;
  2. replacing First Class with First AC in the additional travel allowance that an MP gets;
  3. housing loan facilities for MPs; constitution of a housing society for MPs;
  4. permitting former MPs to travel by air from Leh-Ladakh on the lines they are allowed from Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep;
  5. provision for official vehicles to MPs; guest houses for MPs in each state capital; providing cars to chairpersons of parliamentary committees for travel outside Delhi, providing them security and protocol; and
  6. enhancing daily allowance from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000.[2]

Recommendations “not agreed” to by the government included:

  1. diplomatic passports for former MPs;
  2. First AC facility to an MP’s companion;
  3. local telephone when an MP is abroad;
  4. exemption from toll to former MPs;
  5. permission for former MPs to travel in First AC along with spouse or companion;
  6. Providing canteen facility to MPs for purchase of items of daily needs.
  7. The government on the recommendations for enhancing the housing loan and constituency allowance did not give any official statement of acceptance but said that the same shall be decided in due course. [2]

Recommendations being considered by the government include:

* Enhancement of quota in Kendriya Vidyalayas up to 15 per year.

* Permission to grant airport access to personal assistants of MPs.

* Whether villages selected by MPs can be provided separate budget.

* Enhancement of MPLAD amount which is currently Rs 5 crore per annum.

* Hand pumps in constituencies on the recommendation of MPs.

* Considering construction of roads in constituencies on advice of MPs.[2]

The Government faced protests in the Lok Sabha, hours after it was decided that the salary will be raised to Rs 50,000; the MPs demanded that it shall be raised to Rs 80,001. The Lok Sabha yet again turned into a place of chaos with members chanting slogans against the government and forcing the Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the House not once, but twice. The House was first adjourned till noon when the members created chaos that their demand for a salary just a rupee higher than the highest paid government officer has been rejected by the government and that the recommendations were ruled out was an insult to the members.  When the House reassembled at noon, leaders of SP and RJD, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad, led their members to the well, raising slogans. Members of Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and JD(U) also joined them at the well. As the protests continued, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings again till 2 pm. Apart from the hike in the basic pay from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 per month, government also doubled several other emoluments for them. The government also increased office expenses of parliamentarians from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 per month. The constituency allowance has also been doubled from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 per month. The limit for interest-free loan for MPs for buying a personal vehicle has been hiked four-fold to Rs 4 lakh from the present Rs 1 lakh. The government has also hiked road mileage rate for vehicles used by MPs from Rs 13 per km to Rs 16 per km. Pension benefits have also been increased from Rs 8,000 to Rs 20,000 per month.[3]

The time that should have been utilized for the welfare of the Indian citizens which is the primary duty of the Parliamentarians was wasted in an argument of salary despite of the fact that the salary was given a major hike from 16,000 to 50,000. It seems that the Parliamentarians are more concerned about their luxuries rather than doing their defined jobs.

References-

The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Parliament-panel-wants-doubling-of-pay-automatic-pay-revision-mechanism-for-MPs/articleshow/47903205.cms

Indian Express http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/government-shoots-down-50-of-proposals-to-hike-mp-salary/99/

Indian Express http://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/threefold-hike-in-salary-mps-still-unhappy/

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