Six MPs have a total outstanding of Rs. 19.78 lakh
Though six sitting members of parliament and 399 ex-MPs, most of them from the Lok Sabha, owe as much as Rs. 7,30,66,746 to the MTNL and the BSNL as telephone bill dues in Delhi and their respective constituencies, the MTNL has said their phones cannot be disconnected for non-payment in the normal process as they enjoy “some immunity.” Sixty-seven of the former MPs died without settling the bills.
In a reply to the Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the MTNL said the decision to disconnect the phones could only be taken by the head of the circle and “not by a subordinate officer.”
“The head of the circle shall himself write a polite letter to the concerned MP inviting his attention to the unpaid bills and giving him reasonable opportunity to clear the dues. A decision about the extreme step of disconnection shall be taken only by the head of the circle/telecom district and not by any subordinate officer,” the MTNL said in a letter to Mr. Agarwal.
The sitting MPs – G.V. Harsha Kumar, Ram Sundar Das, Bhaktha Charan Das, M. Krishnaswamy and Harsh Vardhan (all Lok Sabha) and Narender Budhina (Rajya Sabha) – have a total outstanding of Rs.19,78,027 including for use of telephones in Delhi for Rs. 10,18,098.
Sitting members of parliament are eligible for five telephone connections in Delhi and in the constituency (including two mobile phones) and they are allowed up to 1.5 lakh free calls in a year (all 5 connections put together) and only usage in excess of the quota is billed. They are also allowed to carry forward the unused call quota for the next year. Besides they are also allowed broadband usage worth Rs. 1,500 per month free of cost.
The MTNL also said it was filing its up-to-date responses in the Delhi High Court in response to a public interest litigation filed against the Union of India regarding recovery of outstanding dues on MPs.