A television channel's sting operation has caught on camera 11 Members of Parliament taking bribes, ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,10,000, to raise questions in Parliament.
The MPs 'on sale' belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Are Indian lawmakers so poorly paid that they are forced to subvert the sanctity of the country's highest democratic institution and ask for paltry amounts as bribes?
Going by their monthly salary slips, yes, Indian parliamentarians are poorly paid. Especially when you compare an MP's salary to that of an India Inc chief executive officer, or even a software engineer.
But Indian lawmakers do not live on their meagre salaries. They are entitled to a plethora of allowances and mind-boggling perks.
And, MPs have been raising their salaries and allowances over the years on a voice vote -- and without any protests -- in Parliament.
Since 1954, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act has been amended 26 times. The Act was last amended on January 12 last year.
The Act chalks out various rules dealing with travelling and daily allowances, housing, telephone and medical facilities, constituency allowances, journeys abroad and various conveyance and office expenses.
Did you know an MP need not bother about filing the complicated income tax returns simply because he doesn't even figure in the tax bracket radar?
And, here are some more less-known facts about the Indian lawmaker:On paper, the salary of an MP in India is Rs 144,000 per year (about $3,200), which works out to just Rs 12,000 (about $266) per month.
But it is meagre only if you don't consider the numerous allowances and freebies an MP is entitled to. Here is a look at the allowances and perks that every MP -- India has 790 of them -- enjoys.
Each Indian MP gets:
- Rs 14,000 (about $311) for office expenses every month, which includes Rs 3,000 for stationary items, Rs 1,000 on franking of letters and Rs 10,000 for secretariat services.
- A monthly constituency allowance of Rs 10,000.
- A daily allowance of Rs 500 when Parliament is in session. Parliament has three sessions every year. The Budget Session (February to May), Monsoon session (July to September), and Winter session (November and December).
- A daily travel allowance of Rs 8 per kilometre.
- Each MP and his spouse or companion are entitled to unlimited, free, first class railway travel anywhere in the country.
- They can also travel anywhere in India -- with a spouse or companion -- 40 times by air free of cost every year, business class.
- An MP gets a sprawling bungalow in the heart of New Delhi for which he pays a rent of just Rs 2,000 (about $44) per month.
- Each MP gets near-free electricity of 50,000 units every year. And free water.
- The MP's bungalow is furnished -- with air conditioners, refrigerators and television sets -- free of cost. Maintenance of the house -- including washing of sofa covers and curtains -- is done free of cost by the government.
- MPs are entitled to three phone lines and 170,000 free local calls every year.
- When an MP travels abroad officially, he is entitled to free business class air tickets. He is also paid a daily travelling allowance, which varies depending upon the country being visited.
- Most medical expenses of MPs are taken care of by the Contributory Health Service Scheme of the Union government.
- Each MP also gets Rs 20 million (about $434,782) each year from the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Fund. But the MP does not get the money directly. Instead, it is transferred to respective district headquarters where projects are being implemented.
- After an MP completes a term in office, he is entitled to pension. The basic monthly pension amount is Rs 3,000 (about $66). But it goes up according to the number of years an MP has served in Parliament.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General of India last year alleged that many MPs have violated norms in the usage of this money.