A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the central government to appraise it whether the MPs are getting double their travelling expenses while travelling on the railways.
It asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeeve Mehra to also inform it about the “rationale of travel expenses of MPs”.
Mehra told the court that he will seek details from the parliamentary affairs ministry on the issue.
The court’s direction came on a PIL seeking a direction that MPs not be allowed reimbursement of their travel expenses more than the actual amount they have spent.
“Are they getting double the travelling expenses,” asked the bench, adding that “even we judges are getting reimbursement of only the actual expenses incurred on travelling”.
The PIL was filed by B.N.P Singh, a retired air force officer and now general secretary of civil society group Veteran’s Forum for Transparency in Public Life, challenging some provisions of salary and allowances available to MPs.
During the hearing, advocate Sitab Ali Chaudhary told the bench that the railways had issued passes to MPs on which they can travel free of cost, “but they also get reimbursement of their rail travelling irrespective of class they travel”.
“MPs are getting double benefit. With the pass they can travel free and also they get reimbursement for same travelling (expenses),” he said.
While travelling by air, MPs get one-fourth extra allowance, the lawyer claimed.
The action on the part of the government allowing the MPs to seek reimbursement of more money than they actually spend (Rs.1.25 or more reimbursed on Re.1 spent) on their travel expenses was “most illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory”, the advocate added.
The plea claimed that even the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are allowed reimbursement of only the actual expenses incurred by them on their travel and not in the ratio as MPs are getting.
The petition sought directions from central government to have travel allowance and dearness allowances of the MPs of both the houses audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
The central government had earlier told the court it takes “due precautions and measures” while reimbursing the expenses of MPs, so that no unnecessary payment is made to them.