No action taken against the defaulters, says RTI activist

Queries under the Right to Information Act have revealed that parliamentarians owe the New Delhi Municipal Council and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited crores of rupees and no action has been initiated against them despite their defaulting on the payments and ignoring the repeated reminders sent by these agencies.

As per information elicited through RTI, it has been revealed by NDMC and MTNL that the total outstanding against the Members of Parliament stood at Rs. 6.32 crore as on December 7 this year. RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, who had filed the application said, while the agencies refer to these defaulting former and present MPs with utmost respect as “honourable”, they have been largely ignoring the show-cause notices being sent to them for disconnection of services and recovery of dues.

The list of defaulters includes the who’s who of Indian politics and has some big names like former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda of Janata Dal (Secular), Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, former treasurer Moti Lal Vora, actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler and Deepender Singh Hooda of the Congress; former BJP president Rajnath Singh, and Ram Vilas Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party.

“There is no sign of any recovery of Rs. 6.32 crore in dues from these ‘celebrity defaulters’,” he said adding that RTI petitions, supplemented by Central Information Commission verdicts have, however, started having an impact. “Some parliamentarians have started making part-payments and a sum of Rs 2.03 lakh has been paid by them.”

In response to the RTI applications, MTNL has also confirmed about the directives for not disconnecting telephone lines of defaulting parliamentarians. Mr. Agarwal said the increasing NDMC outstanding dues also confirm that privileged treatment is being meted out to these “modern days kings and queen” and this was distinctly different from the manner in which the common man was treated by these agencies in the event of a default.

With the RTI responses revealing that repeated reminders also have limited impact in getting the defaulters to pay up, the applicant has demanded that the Government adopt a policy of auto deducting all government bills from the salaries and pensions of present and former parliamentarians. “No dues certificate should be necessary from contestants before filing nomination for any election,” Mr. Agarwal added.

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