Democracy is for the people, of the people and by the people. You must have heard it countless times. But, in reality, these ideas are considered utopian. In real life, politicians do not even like to pay their personal taxes. It doesn’t matter which party they belong to. Both BJP and non-BJP MLAs are equal partners in this category of crime.
MLAs can’t pay their taxes
MLAs sitting in legislative assemblies of 7 states still use sovereign coffers for filing their tax returns. Apparently, there is no partisan division in sucking money out of the public’s pocket. MLAs from all parties are looting the public’s money. Basically, the public is not only paying for the services of ministers, chief ministers and MLAs, but it is also suffering for asking them to serve.
Moreover, it is astounding to note that Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have made it possible by tampering with the laws related to politicians serving public offices. Before 2019, a total of 9 states used to follow this practice. After that Uttar Pradesh brought the desired changes in 2019, while Himachal Pradesh brought them in 2022.
It is interesting to note that Constitution makers have provided enough powers to legislatures to decide their own salaries and emoluments. They derive their powers from Article 195 of the Indian Constitution.
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Constitution provides them enough leeway
Article 195 reads, “salaries and allowances of Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council of a State shall be entitled to receive such salaries and allowances as may from time to time be determined, by the Legislature of the State by law and, until provision in that respect is so made, salaries and allowances at such rates and upon such conditions as were immediately before the commencement of the Constitution applicable in the case of members of the Legislative Assembly of the corresponding Province Legislative Procedure”
Constitution makers knew that they cannot provide for salaries in static documents. Simply because, with the passage of time, things like inflation, modes of transport, and modes of communication keep changing. Basically, the variables affecting human lives make a transformative shift. So, they asked MLAs to decide their salaries on their own according to circumstances.
MLAs need to take up the responsibility
But, these ‘public servants’ decided to twist the rules in their favour. The basic pay for MLAs is deliberately kept low in order to ensure that their incomes are not subject to taxation. Their needs are met through hefty allowances which are not subject to taxation. Very few states keep basic pay high enough to bring it under the fold of taxation. Now, as you see, 7 of those states do not even compel their ‘Vidhayak Ji’s’ to pay those taxes.
MLAs are chosen to serve the people. They are not doing any favour to anyone in their respective seats. They are simply doing their duty for which people have chosen them. Using the same powers derived from the people of the country to thwart the needs of the very same people is deplorable and needs to be stopped. Paying their own taxes is the bare minimum MLAs can do.