Elected representatives have a legitimate role in meeting development needs of their constituencies, the Supreme Court on Monday said while upholding with certain riders the legality of the scheme providing grants to MLAs and MLCs in Uttar Pradesh for local area development. “Elected representatives have a vital role in democracy. They have an intrinsic connection with their constituencies and have a legitimate role to discharge in meeting development needs of their constituencies. Article 243ZD does not exclude their role.
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“On the contrary, they perform a supplemental role by enhancing and supporting the work of the institutions of local self-governance,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said. The judgement was delivered on an appeal filed by an NGO Lok Prahari challenging the constitutional validity of Uttar Pradesh government’s Vidhayak Nidhi Scheme (VNS), introduced in 1998-99 with an allocation of Rs 50 lakh to every MLA and MLC. The scheme was also upheld by the Allahabad High Court in 2013.
The apex court bench said, “We are in agreement with the view of the Allahabad High Court that the Vidhayak Nidhi Scheme does not per se violate Article 243ZD (Committee for district planning) of the Constitution or the UP Planning and Developmental Act, 1999.” However, the apex court said that the principles which were formulated in the 2010 judgment of the Constitution Bench in Bhim Singh Case upholding the validity of Centre’s MPLAD Scheme (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) were not even noticed nor there was any attempt on the part of the state to ensure that the guidelines that govern the VNS were brought in consonance with the provisions of Parts IX and IXA of the Constitution and the observations contained in Bhim Singh judgement.
“While we are of the view that there can be no objection to the state implementing a scheme of the nature that was upheld by the Constitution Bench in Bhim Singh, the safeguards which form a part of MPLAD Scheme should be duly considered so as to ensure that the role which is ascribed to the district planning authorities and institutions of local self-governance is not denuded,” it said.