Agreeing to examine the constitutional validity of laws granting pension and other perks to retired MPs, the Supreme Court (SC) has sought responses from the Centre and Election Commission of India (ECI) on the issue.
A bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and E S Abdul Nazeer said that it will hear the matter in detail. The case will now be heard next month. The bench also issued notices to the Secretary General of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The SC is hearing the case based on a plea by an NGO, Lok Prahari, seeking scrapping of pension and other perks to MPs.
Delhi-based think-tank Association for Democratic Reforms has also been allowed by the court to be a party to the case.

The NGO had filed an appeal in the Allahabad High Court as well but it was dismissed. The petitioner has argued that pension and other perks being given to MPs even after demitting office are contrary to Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has also contended that Parliament has no power to provide for pensionary benefits to lawmakers without making any law.

"Salaries, allowances, and pension of the Members of Parliament Act, 1954 was enacted in pursuance of Article 106 of the Constitution. The Legislature through amendments made to the salaries, allowances, and pension of the Members of Parliament Act, 1954, has legislated to provide for pension and other facilities to the former members of the Parliament including their spouses, dependents, and companions.

"Article 106 does not permit provision for pension or facilities to persons other than MPs. The following said provisions of the Act are ultra vires of the provisions of Article 106 of the Constitution," the NGO said.

The NGO alleged pension and other amenities granted to ex-MPs were "unreasonable" and sought withdrawal of such facilities while questioning various provisions of the law framed by Parliament.

"While the Governors do not have the facility of pension at all, an MP even for a day and his spouse get pension for life. While even serving judges of the Supreme Court and high courts do not have the facility of free air/train travel for their spouses even on official tours, ex-MPs enjoy unlimited free train travel for life in AC-II with a companion 365 days a year," the petition said.

"This has resulted in the obnoxious situation where a former MP becomes an unwarranted burden on the citizens as it it is their birthright to fleece the public whom they no longer represent. It has made politics the most lucrative profession," it said.

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