The government asserted Thursday only Parliament has the right to decide how public money is to be spent and asked other institutions of democracy, including courts, to respect this supremacy. Responding to objections raised by some MPs in Rajya Sabha to an observation by the Supreme Court questioning lifelong pensions to retired MPs, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “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… Who is entitled to pensions, what the quantum of pensions is, and so on, is an area which exclusively falls within the domain of Parliament… I think, as part of inter-institutional discipline, this is a constitutional position which all institutions will eventually have to respect.”
The Supreme Court, hearing an NGO’s petition Wednesday, had sought a response from the Centre on facilities and allowances being offered to retired MPs.
“…I was astonished to read today in the newspapers an observation made that 80 per cent of all ex-MPs are crorepatis… I would request the Leader of the House to take note of the sentiments of the House because we all would be ex-members some day or the other and, I am sure, 80 per cent of us are not crorepatis,” Jairam Ramesh of Congress said.
Raising the issue, Naresh Agarwal (SP) said many ex-MPs were facing financial difficulties. “In Hardoi, one ex-MP’s sons and grandsons are working as labourers… His name is Manilal,” Agarwal said.