No rationale for withholding existing Pension since amended law would come into force only from date of its Notification not retrospectively – Advocate
Chandigarh – It has been over three weeks since the House of Punjab Legislative Assembly on the last day of recently concluded Second (Budget) Session on June 30 this year passed The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2022 which thereafter went to State Governor for his assent after which it would get notified & enforced as a duly enacted Act.
Pertinent that days after incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government led by Bhagwant Mann assumed reins of power in March this year, it took a bold and unprecedented decision that all Ex/former members (MLAs) of Punjab Assembly would be entitled to get Pension for only one term irrespective of the fact that they had served as member of State Assembly for how many terms and also irrespective of the tenures of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
On May 2, the Punjab Cabinet approved the appropriate amendment in The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Act, 1977 for enabling such change. However, AAP dispensation was not able to enforce the same at once via promulgation of Ordinance from the Governor Banwarilal Purohit as he returned the same in last week of May by asking the State Government that since the next Assembly Session was then due soon, hence it should be better brought in the form of a Bill in the ensuing Session.
Thereafter, the Amendment Bill i.e. The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2022 after being tabled in the Assembly on June 30, 2022 was passed the same day and is currently pending awaiting assent of the Governor of Punjab.
However, in the meanwhile, ex-MLAs of Punjab Assembly including of previous 15th Punjab Assembly, which was dissolved with effect from March 11, 2022, are been getting their monthly Pension since the month of March, 2022 which is paid in the subsequent month.
Amidst all this, an Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar, after perusing the text of the aforementioned Amendment Bill as passed by the House asserts that as per its Clause 1(2), it would eventually have prospective (future) and not retrospective (previous) effect i.e. in other words it would come into force from the date of its publication in the Punjab Government Gazette after receiving the assent of the Governor of Punjab. Hence, there is no rationale for withholding the Pension of former MLAs for the last over three months.
He told that after due enactment followed by enforcement of aforementioned Amendment law which amends Section 3(1) of aforementioned 1977 Act, the ex-MLAs are supposed to receive a pension of sixty thousand rupees per mensem plus Dearness Allowance (DA) thereon as admissible to the Punjab Government pensioners irrespective of the number of terms an Ex-MLA has served as a member and irrespective of the tenures of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in which he had served as a member. However such ex-MLA after attaining the age of 65 years, 75 years and 80 years would be entitled to an increase of five percent, ten per cent and fifteen per cent respectively of the basic pension.
The Advocate further added that as per current Section 3(1) of ibid 1977 Act, an Ex-MLA receives a pension of 15 thousand rupees per mensem plus DA thereon as admissible to Punjab Government Pensioners for the first term and an additional ten thousand rupees plus DA thereon as admissible to Punjab Government Pensioners for every subsequent term irrespective of the tenures of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in which he had served as a Member. However, after attaining the age of 65 years, 75 years and 80 years, such Ex-MLA is entitled to an increase of five percent, ten per cent and fifteen per cent respectively of the basic pension.
However, Hemant quips that there is an interesting catch here. Although the current rate of DA for Punjab Government Pensioners is 28% hence on that count, a former MLA with a single term as member of Punjab Assembly and who is below 65 years of age seems to entitled to monthly pension of only nineteen thousand two hundred rupees but the fact is that ex-MLAs are actually getting much more DA than Punjab Government Pensioners.
Hence, a former MLA with a single term as member of Punjab Assembly apart from getting fifteen thousand rupees as basic pension is additionally getting 50 percent of such amount i.e. seven thousand five hundred rupees as merged DA and further 234% gets added more as DA thus total Pension amount becomes over seventy five thousand rupees. This is when an ex-MLA is below sixty five years of age. The amount would increase further if the former legislator is over 65, 75 and 80 years of age.
On the other hand, after enforcement of amended law, an ex-MLA with a single term as member of Punjab Assembly and who is below 65 years of age would get rupees sixty thousand rupees as basic pension.
Now if 50 percent of such amount is added therein as merged DA and further 234% gets added more as DA, as is the case currently, then the total Pension amount of such ex-MLA would become over three lakh rupees.
However, if only 28% (current rate of DA for Punjab Government Pensioners) is added to the basic pension of sixty thousand rupees, then it would make the Pension amount as seventy six thousand eight hundred rupees for every single-term ex-MLA who is below 65 years.
Hemant seriously wonders and says that it remains to be seen if under the new arrangement i.e. post enforcement of recently amended law, which of the above rate of DA would be admissible to ex-MLAs of Punjab Assembly on their monthly Pension amount ?