Don’t allow MPs, MLAs more than three months arrears in payment: HC

New Delhi,  (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Friday asked NDMC, MTNL, BSNL and any other municipalities or governmental agencies providing any chargeable amenities/facilities like electricity, water and telephone to the MPs, MLAs and political parties “not allow arrears of more than of three months of charges to accumulate”.

“If the said charges are in arrears for three months, the facility/amenity/utility be disconnected forthwith, of course in accordance with law,” said a division bench of Chief Justice G.Rohini and R.S. Endlaw.

In the judgment, the bench asked the agency providing such facility/amenity/utility to within six months after the disconnection initiate proceedings for recovery/realization of the amounts due.

“The agency providing such facilities/amenities/utilities to also intimate the said arrears to the secretary of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha or of the legislative assembly of which the occupant is a member and the secretariat of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha or the legislative assembly of which the said occupant may be a member to use his/her good offices to ensure payment and take such other steps as may be permissible in law,” the court added.

It asked the secretariats of both houses of parliament and the legislative assembly as well as the House Allotment Committee to within six months explore as to whether any action for cancellation of allotment of the house of such occupant in arrears or of putting a stop to any further allotments in favour of members of the political party to whom the occupant in default belongs can be initiated and make such a provision.

The court’s order came on a public interest litigation filed by NGO Krishak Bharat filed in 1998 alleging that some former MPs vacated their official residences after their tenures ended without paying electricity, water and telephone dues.

The bench also directed that the agency providing such amenity/facility/utility to also within one month of the charges being due for three months, communicate said fact to the political party to which the occupant belongs.

“The ECI to, as directed in the earlier orders in this petition, continue to insist upon the candidates desirous of contesting an election to parliament or to legislative assembly, along with their nomination form furnishing an affidavit of their being not in arrears of any public dues and if such candidate is in occupation of or in the past ten years been in occupation of any government accommodation to furnish a ‘No Dues’ certificate from the agency providing electricity, wat er and telephone to the said accommodation.”

The poll panel was also asked, within six months, consider the possibility if any of putting any impediment to a defaulter of public dues contesting election, to ensure quick recovery of the said dues.

The Election Commission was, within six months, also asked to consider the possibility of requiring political parties fielding candidates in any election to also furnish an affidavit that they are “not in arrears of any electricity, water, telephone or other public dues, as a pre-condition to their fielding candidates in any election”, the bench directed.

“ITDC and other public sector undertakings providing any chargeable services to political parties, MPs or MLAs to also not allow credit to them beyond what they usually allow to other customers and to take steps for recovery thereof and to similarly convey the names of the defaulters to the secretariats of parliament/legislative assembly.”

The court also added: “In the last nearly 18 years for which the petition is pending, this court has endeavoured to make the public bodies to whom the monies were owed recover their dues by directing them to take resort to all means thereof. Alas, without much success. The zeal, which the same public bodies show to recover similar dues from other citizens not yielding any power, was found to be totally missing and which in fact had resulted in the arrears accumulating.”

 

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