An RTI query seeking details on allowances and pensions to former MPs who are chief ministers has resulted in a strange reply. The information, the Lok Sabha secretariat has informed, was "personal", so details would not be shared.
According to the Finance Bill of 2018, former MPs are entitled to a pension of Rs 25,000 every month, if they complete their five-year term. The MPs are entitled to an additional Rs 2,000 for every year served as an MP over the five-year period.
Under the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, an MP loses his entitlement to pension and perks in case he is appointed the President, Vice-President, or is re-elected to either House or gets employed in the central or state government.
The RTI query was filed by Madhya Pradesh-based activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur. The Lok Sabha Secretariat’s First Appellate Authority cited Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act, which authorises the information holding authority to refuse information if it deems it personal.
The section says that “information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual" may not be shared "unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure". It also adds that this is "provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person”.
The salaries and pensions of parliamentarians are decided by the Parliament through open deliberation and thus, constitute information which can be placed before Parliament if a member asks for it from the authority.
The RTI query had sought the information of pensions and allowances given to Amrinder Singh, Mehbooba Mufti, Yogi Adityanath, Mamata Banerjee, Sarbananda Sonowal, Nitish Kumar, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje, Manohar Parrikar, Kamal Nath, V. Narayanasamy, Ashok Gehlot, and Sachin Pilot (current Rajasthan deputy chief minister), between 2013 and 2018 December.
All of them have been MPs and went on to become chief ministers, except Pilot.