Supreme Court refuses to scrap the pension & other benefits to ex-MPs

Supreme Court: Upholding the Constitutional validity of certain Amendments made to the Salaries, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, the bench of J. Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, JJ held that the expression “allowances” of MPs occurring under Entry 73 of List ­I of the Seventh Schedule is wide enough to cover the payment of “pension” and the other benefits covered by the impugned provisions to MPs or ex­-MPs. Even otherwise the authority of Parliament under Entry 97 of List ­I is wide enough to cover the impugned legislation.

Regarding the contention that the silence in Article 106 of the Constitution operates as a prohibition for payment of pension to the former MP, the Court said:

“The fact that there are express references to the payment of pension in the Constitution for certain Constitutional functionaries and not for others, in our opinion does not lead to the conclusion that   the   Constitution by its silence prohibits the payment of pension to those constitutional functionaries.”

It further said:

“if we were to accept the argument that those Constitutional functionaries who are entitled to pension by the text of the Constitution form a distinct class exclusively entitled to the payment of pension the result would be that the CAG, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Parliament or State Legislature, and Ministers of the Centre and State would be disentitled to pension.”

The petitioner also argued that pension is payable to an employee of State after his superannuation.  Since MPs are not employees of State, they are not entitled for pension nor the Parliament is competent to provide payment of pension to the   ex­MPs. Rejecting the said argument, the Court said that presuming that pension is only payable to former employees of State and nobody else, is erroneous as there are various other categories of payments made by State which are called ‘pensions’, such as, Old Age Pension, Widow Pension, and Disability Pension etc.

The Court, however, ended the judgment by stating that:

“these questions are in the orbit of the wisdom of the Parliament in choosing/changing the legislative policy whether the various benefits created under the impugned provisions are rational having regard to the affluent financial status of some of the MPs or the poverty of the millions of the population etc.”

[Lok Prahari v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 379, decided on 16.04.2018]

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