New Delhi: In a veiled message to the judiciary, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said Parliament alone has authority to decide on how much pension MPs can draw and inter-institutional discipline has to be respected.
A day after the Supreme Court sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking scrapping of pension and other perks of Members of Parliament, the opposition in Rajya Sabha expressed concern that the image of lawmakers was being sullied.
“It is unquestionably a clear constitutional position that public money can only be spent with the authority of Parliament and, therefore, Parliament is the one and only authority that determines how public funds are to be spent.
“This is an authority of Parliament. No other institution can really exercise that power; it is only the Parliament which can exercise that power. Therefore, who is entitled to pension, what the quantum of pension is and so on, is an area which exclusively falls within the domain of the Parliament.
That is the position of this government,” Jaitley said in response.
Opposition members had expressed concern over the apex court’s reported comments that 80 per cent former law makers are ‘crorepatis’ (millionaires).
“I understand the sentiments expressed by members and the Government would always stick to this position. I think, as part of inter-institutional discipline, this is a constitutional position which all institutions will eventually have to respect,” Jaitley added.
Earlier, Naresh Agarwal (SP), through a point-of-order, raised the issue saying the image of the MPs is being sullied as if they are appropriating huge public monies as salaries and pension without working.
He said some former MPs were living “a pauper’s life” and the children of a former law maker in Uttar Pradesh were working as labourers and artisans.
Jairam Ramesh (Cong) said he was astonished to read that a survey had found that 80 per cent of the ex-MPs were millionaires.
“When a Supreme Court Judge says that 80 per cent of ex-MPs are crorepatis, I think this is a very serious issue and, with the greatest of respect, I have to say that this is an astonishing statement to come from the highest in the land, which is one of the pillars of democracy,” he said.
As Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked him to seek remedy in the courts and not criticise the judiciary, Ramesh said 80 per cent of the present MPs would not be millionaires when their term comes to an end.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday reportedly said the pension and perks to MPs seemed ‘prima facie’ unreasonable and had sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission of India on a plea seeking the scrapping of pension and other perks being given to Members of Parliament.
A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar issued notices to the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the plea filed by NGO Lok Prahari on the issue.