RTI reveals no action for recovery of pending telephone bills of MPs
An application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act six months ago had revealed that six serving Members of Parliament (MPs) and 399 retired MPs (both dead and alive) owed MTNL over Rs 7 crore in pending telephone dues. A fresh application filed under the RTI Act has shown that no action has been taken against these MPs till date. The unpaid dues are over and above the 1.5 lakh free phone calls each year which the MPs enjoy.
Paragraph 164 (iii) of the Posts and Telegraphs Manual (Volume XIV) says that "In regards to the telephones working for MPs both in their capacity as MP and in their private capacity, if a bill is not paid within the prescribed period, the divisional engineer telegraphs/telephones concerned should bring the matter to the personal notice of the head of circle giving full particulars of the unpaid bills. The head of circle should himself write a polite letter to the concerned MP inviting his attention to the unpaid bills and giving him reasonable opportunity to clear the dues. A decision about the extreme step of disconnection shall be taken only by the head of circle/telephone district and not by any subordinate officer…" The reply to the RTI application shows that no head of circle has had the courage to take on a MP and take the decision of disconnection of telephone.
Mr. Subhash Agrawal, the applicant, has questioned why crores of tax-payers' money are going towards paying the unpaid bills of those he called as ‘modern-day maharajas’. He has called for deduction of the pending bills from the salaries and pensions of present and former parliamentarians. He has also demanded that a 'no-dues' certificate should be mandatory for all those contesting elections. In case of non-payment of dues, the treatment should be at par with the citizens and the disconnection of connection of telephones, water and electricity should be done for the non-payment of the bill.