NEW DELHI

‘MPLAD scheme is invalid’: petition in apex court

J. Venkatesan

‘Powers to MPs to implement projects meant that executive powers had been taken over by the legislature’



Under the Constitution, all money from the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) for development schemes had to be sanctioned by the Centre

“There was no law which sets out the manner in which the amounts can be spent”



NEW DELHI: The Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme providing Rs. 2 crore to each MP to take up developmental works is invalid and unconstitutional, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal argued in the Supreme Court.

He made this submission before a Constitution Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran, D.K. Jain, P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal, which is hearing petitions challenging the validity of the scheme.

Mr. Venugopal, appearing for Bhim Singh, leader of the Panthers Party, said powers to MPs to implement projects meant that executive powers had been taken over by the legislature, which was against the constitutional scheme. Under the Constitution, all money from the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) for development schemes had to be sanctioned by the Union Government. Resorting to Article 282 (expenditure defrayable by the Union or a State out of its revenues) for releasing the funds was impermissible, Mr. Venugopal said. Under the scheme, which started in December 1993, a total of Rs.19,048 cro-re was released from the CFI but there was no law “which sets out the manner in which the amounts can be spent.”

He said the scheme started with an initial allocation of Rs.5 lakh for every MP. It was increased to Rs.1 crore in 1994 and further to Rs.2 crore. There was now a proposal to increase it to Rs.5 crore. Merely passing an Appropriation Act and raising certain demands were not sufficient to support the scheme without a substantive law.

Mr. Venugopal argued that the money could be spent for creation of durable assets for drawing water, and on primary education, construction of school buildings, public health, sanitation and rural roads. Since these expenses related to projects within the domain of the States, Parliament could not appropriate any money and withdrawal and spending of amounts for these works would be impermissible and invalid. For, only the State legislatures were competent to do so.

He said expenses of the Union and the States had been clearly demarcated under the Constitution, and Parliament could not usurp the powers of the State legislatures. Defraying of any expenditure should meet the requirements of the Constitution and any violation thereof would be invalid. Under Article 266 (relating to CFI), “no money out of the CFI or the CF of a State shall be appropriated except in accordance with law and for the purpose and in the manner provided in the Constitution.”





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