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No harm in limiting the multiple pensions of the former legislators but coherent rules must be applied to do away the existing arrangement. I’m of the humble view that pensionary benefits to the former legislators cannot be done away with an oral announcement of the Chief Minister or by an executive order. The matter should be thoroughly thought through with clinical precision and also with intrinsic application of mind only then it should be placed before the State legislature for suitable amendment.

To be in public life and to become a legislator once or several times is not an easy task. It entails lifelong dedication and selfless service to the general public. Once you cease to be an MLA, you cannot robotically shut your doors to the public and refuse to nurse their genuine grievances.

We are a multiparty constitutional democracy and, in the elections, only one candidate, out of many wins and the rest loose, despite the fact that a substantial number of voters favor them to be elected and serve them as their legislators. If a sitting legislator loses the election that does not mean that he also ceases to be a public man. He is obliged to serve the public and also expected to sponsor and fulfil a variety of social commitments, being a former legislator. Hence there must me, some reasonable financial resources for the sustainability of his life and also to carry on as a public man.

The Chief Minister before making this abrupt and out of the box announcement should have appointed a committee of the parliamentarian under the Chairmanship of the Hon’ble Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly with unambiguous terms of reference with specific time frame to submit its recommendation.

As per the order of precedence and rules of protocol of Government of India and also that of the Government of Punjab, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) is placed above the Chief Secretary of the State and then under what tangible justification, government can fix his or her pension and other benefits below the Chief Secretary of the State.

It is unfortunate and rather disparaging that after the change of the regime the legislators have become the subjective target of bashing and humiliation. I am afraid, If this disgraceful trend continues to prevail and predominate the narrative with unexpected ordeal, even the elected legislator would lose their dignity and relevance in running the administration of the State. Therefore, this subversive trend to denigrate the legislator would make them practically subservient to the bureaucracy of the State and their status and effectiveness as MLA would become nonexistent.

I am not opposed to the reduction of the multiple pensions, but to limit it to one pension norm and also much less than the IAS and IPS officers, would not be feasible. The measure would also not be commensurate with the dignity of the house of legislature including the elected and former members of the House.

I would therefore suggest to the Chief Minister not to rush through the indecent haste on this vital issue and matter should be thoroughly examined to some degree of reasonableness that may entail fixing minimum and maximum limit for the pension to the former legislators.

About the author:
Bir Devinder Singh

Bir Devinder Singh The writer, Bir Devinder Singh is a former deputy speaker of Punjab legislative assembly. He is an avid writer and a speaker. He started his political career from All India Sikh Students federation and later joined the congress party. He was elected as MLA twice and joined Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali) in 2019.

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