Central govt did no wrong in suspending MPLAD: Bombay HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the Union government was not wrong in suspending the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme in view of the Covid19 pandemic. The HC was dealing with a petition challenging the decision of the Union government to suspend the scheme in April this year and using the funds for combating Covid19 pandemic.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni said, "The Covid19 pandemic is a disaster and the government will have to do everything it can to control it under the provisions of the disaster management law. Thus, the Union has powers to invoke this act and suspend the scheme."

The bench questioned the PIL petitioner - advocate Shekhar Jagtap, who raised objections to the Union's decision to divert the MPLAD funds to combat Covid crisis.

"We fail to understand how you (Jagtap) can object to this decision, especially when the entire nation is struggling. How can you object to diversion of parliamentarian funds for fighting the pandemic?" CJ Datta remarked.

"You should appreciate the fact that everyone including the MPs are doing a great job to combat the pandemic. Also the fact that these funds are being used to fight pandemic and not to construct bridges, which isn't necessary at this moment," the CJ added.

The judges further raised doubts on Jagtap's locus on challenging the decision. "Not a single MP has come before us objecting the decision to suspend their funds. In fact, they are mature and responsible enough and would never take exception to such a decision," the judges observed.

The bench further said if any MP has any doubts on the government's decision, they were free to approach the HC as and when required.

The matter would be next heard on Wednesday.

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