MPLADS constitutionally valid, says SC

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the MPLAD scheme under which MPs are allocated Rs 2 crore annually to develop their constituencies

It’s a matter of great relief for India’s Members of Parliament (MPs). The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the Rs 2 crore they get every year for the development of their constituencies, under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS). 

“We hold that the MPLAD scheme is valid,” the Bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, said in a unanimous verdict. Interpreting Article 282 of the Constitution, the Bench said that Parliament validly holds powers to disburse funds for the scheme. 

The court added that it was satisfied that, under the scheme, there is no violation of separation of powers. “There is no reason for us to interfere in the scheme,” the Bench -- also comprising Justices R V Raveendran, D K Jain, P Sathasivam and J M Panchal -- said, noting that allegations that the funds are prone to be misused is not reason enough to scrap the scheme.

MPLADS came under judicial scrutiny after a sting operation in 2005 showed some MPs allegedly demanding money from contractors to award work for projects under the scheme. The expose led to the expulsion of members from both houses of Parliament. 

The scheme was first challenged in 1999 by Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh and an NGO, Common Cause, alleging that in the absence of any guidelines, funds allocated under the scheme were being misused by MPs. 

Later, petitions were also filed in various high courts. The government intervened and the petitions were transferred to the Supreme Court. 

The court accepted that the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have committees to monitor the scheme, and that there are various levels of accountability for its correct implementation.

The court said the scheme had helped local development, providing facilities like water, electricity, and libraries in various parts of the country. 

Source: Press Trust of India, May 6, 2010
             http://www.ndtv.com, May 2010