In what is a historic first, the Karnataka Assembly shocked several of its legislators by ordering to withhold the salaries of 21 MLAs.
Monday’s order by the State Assembly to withhold the salaries of 21 Congress MLAs followed office of profit allegations.
The accounts wing of the State Secretariat has been asked to withhold the allowances paid to these legislators.
These MLAs include G Hampaiah Naik Ballatagi (Manvi constituency), Malikaiah Venkaiah Guttedar (Afzalpur), RV Devaraj (Chikkapete), K Venkatesh (Piriyapattana), Rajashekhar Patil (Humnabad), MTB Nagaraj (Hoskote), Froz Sait (Belagavi North), K Gopal Poojary (Byndur), G Puttaranga Shetty (Chamarajanagar), Rahim Khan (Bidar), K Vasanth Bangera (Belthangady), BR Yavagal (Naragund), MK Somashekhar (Krishnaraja), GS Patil (Ron), Shivananda Patil (Basavana Bagewadi), Hampanagoud Badarli (Sindhanur), HR Alagura (Nagathana), S Sudhakar (Hiriyur), baburao Chinchansur (Gurumithkal), Sharada Mohan Shetty (Kumata) and NY Gopalakrishna (Ballari).
Office of profit allegations
The Assembly’s decision was taken after several sitting MLAs, who had been appointed as chairpersons of various state-run boards and corporations, were allegedly drawing salaries over and above their allowances.
These 21 MLAs, following their appointment, were paid several allowances such as house rent, travelling, furniture, telephone and medical. This was in addition the MLA salaries that they are entitled to.
However, allegations of office of profit surfaced after the secretariat of the Legislative Assembly received letters from the MLA requesting payment of salaries over and above the remuneration they were allotted. It was then that the Secretariat had realised that these 21 Congress MLAs had been allegedly been drawing salaries for heading various committees.
Should MLAs be paid remuneration for services rendered as members of the Assembly only, or should they be paid extra salaries for heading various committees and state-run corporations? This was the question posed by the Secretariat to the Advocate General of Karnataka and the Accountant General of Karnataka.
Legal opinions of the Advocate General and Accountant General were sought following which the decision to withhold the salaries was made.
“The provisions of Section 13 of the Karnataka Legislature Salaries, Pension and Allowance Act 1956 would apply to Chairman of a Board or a Corporation and, therefore, they will not be additionally entitled for the salary, allowances or any other benefit provided to them as the MLA. They will only be entitled to the salaries and allowances and other benefits provided to them by Executive Order of the state while appointing them as Chairman of any Board or Corporation,” in his reply to the secretariat, the Advocate General said.
The legislature officials also requested for clarity on the continuation of these MLAs as Chairpersons of various standing committees and whether they can attend meetings of the committees and draw allowances for the same.
“The rules and procedures pertaining to these committees prohibit a minister from continuing as member of these committees. But this would not apply to these MLAs. However, in view of the fact that, these MLAs enjoy the status of a minister and draw salary and allowances of a minister, they will not be entitled for the allowances provided to a committee member,” the Advocate General’s letter adds.
The Accountant General also expressed similar opinion, after which the order was passed to withhold the salaries of these 21 MLAs with immediate effect from the date of appointment to these boards and corporations.
This decision was made as the Advocate General’s letter indicated charges of office of profit.