March 17, 2007

An MLC’s privilege

I didn’t know, did you, that a member of the Karnataka legislative council could use official vehicle for private purposes on payment of ‘user charges’. A privilege conscious MLC chose to make an issue of his failure to get official vehicle for private use. On his complaint the council chairman reportedly recommended suspension of two officials on the charge of dereliction of duty. See The Hindu story.

The complaint:the MLC was denied the privilege of using sarkari vehicle for a family pilgrimage to Tamilnadu, though the requisition was made 20 days in advance. The official explanation said the designated vehicle had been under repair. If we go by the media report, the MLC concerned was informed about this.

Question is: Shouldn’t the officials have made alternate transport arrangement to meet the MLC’s vehicle requisition? The answer would depend on whether an MLC can claim private use of official vehicle as his right, rather than a facility subject to availability of the vehicle.

I have a few more questions:
1)Is the rule on government vehicles unambiguous about their private use beyond Karnataka?
2)Should a people’s representative be so assertive in his claim to such privilege, merely because it is there in the book?
3)Wouldn’t we, the lesser mortals, like to know if there are other such privileges our representatives in the state legislature enjoy in the service of democracy ?

A media story on MLCs’ privileges would be timely, and educative. Meanwhile would anyone know what ‘user charges’ add up to, and the year when the rates were fixed?

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