Legislators' prize scheme
a recent move of the Supreme Court (sc) might spell trouble for the controversial Member of Parliament Local Areas Development Scheme (mplads). On July 27, 2004, the sc referred three public interest litigations (pil) against mplads to a constitution bench. The bench would determine the constitutional validity of the scheme since it gives executive responsibility to mps, who have a legislative role to play as per the law. It is for the first time that the sc acted on a petition against the scheme, launched in 1993 to enable mps undertake developmental works in their constituencies. Initially, they got Rs 50 lakh annually for the purpose but now the amount has been raised to Rs 2 crore.
"By making the legislator a partner in the functioning of the executive, the mplads erodes the check that the legislator is supposed to exercise over the executive," says S D Sharma, working chairperson of Lok Sevak Sangh (lss), a Delhi-based citizens watchdog, which is one of the appellants. International corruption watchdog Transparency International, India, is also a petitioner in the lss petition, filed on June 30, 2003. The other two pils were filed by Bhim Singh of Panthers Party, Jammu and Kashmir, and Common Cause, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation. Sharma reveals that once the sc verdict on mplads is out, pils would be filed in state high courts against similar schemes for members of legislative assembly (mlas) (see table: Wrong trend). Such schemes have also been started for Councillors in some states.
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