Noting that Rs. 12,000 crore of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds remains unspent, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman to come out with a legal framework to ensure its transparency and hold parliamentarians and political parties accountable for their obligations under the scheme.
- The MPLADS allots Rs. 5 crore per year to each Member of Parliament (MP) to be spent on projects of their choice in their constituency.
- The scheme is funded and administered through the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- Projects are to be recommended to and implemented by the district-level administration.
Central Information Commissioner Prof. Acharyulu noted that a recent MoSPI report showed that in February 2018, funds allotted to MPLADS but unspent stood at Rs. 4,773.13 crore, while 2,920 instalments of Rs. 2.5 crore were yet to be released. That resulted in a total backlog of Rs. 12,073.13 crore, it said.
CIC Order :- The CIC’s orders asked the leaders of the two Houses of Parliament to consider providing the “necessary legal frame” for the scheme, which would “make all Parliamentary parties and MPs answerable and accountable for MPLADS funds as public authorities under the RTI Act to prevent MPLADS irregularities.”
Why Transparency is must ?
- The framework should make transparency a legal obligation, with all MPs and parties required to present the public and Parliament with a comprehensive report on the number of applications received for their constituency, works recommended, works rejected with reasons, progress of works and details of beneficiaries.
- Liabilities for any breach of duties should also be imposed, said the order. Further, the framework should prohibit and prevent MPs using the funds for their private works, or diverting them to private trusts or to their own relatives.
- District administrations must provide regular information — work-wise, MP-wise, and year-wise details on progress — which are to be compiled by the MoSPI and made available to the public.
About CIC (Central Information Commission) :-
- The Central Information Commission (CIC) set up under the Right to Information Act is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.
- CIC act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the RTI Act.
- The Commission includes 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President of India.
- CIC and members are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.