New Delhi: In one of his first decisions after taking charge as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on 15 May, Rajiv Kumar Friday decided that he, along with fellow election commissioners (ECs), will voluntarily curtail perks and privileges available to them.
To observe austerity in personal entitlements, the CEC and ECs have decided not to avail exemption from Income Tax on sumptuary allowance and avail only one Leave Travel Concession (LTC) in a year, in place of three LTCs currently available to them.
The CEC and ECs are currently entitled to a monthly sumptuary allowance of Rs 34,000. There is no income tax payable by the CEC and ECs on this allowance. Sumptuary allowances are granted to CEC and ECs in addition to their salary to compensate for the expenditure incurred on entertaining visitors.
The Election Commission of India has already sent the proposal to the Ministry of law and justice for appropriate action.
The decision was taken following the first meeting of the Election Commission of India (ECI) after Kumar assumed charge. The meeting, which was also attended by Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, reviewed the perks and privileges available to the CEC and ECs.
The Election Commission has one CEC and two election commissioners. Currently, the ECI has just one EC, after Kumar was appointed the CEC following Sushil Chandra’s retirement on 14 May.
According to a press statement issued by the Election Commission, the CEC and ECs draw salary perks and perquisites as per Section 3 of the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991.
Besides, they are also entitled to three LTCs in a year for self, spouse and dependent members of the family.
The press statement said that the commission felt the need of observing austerity in personal entitlements.
“The commission unanimously decided that CEC and ECs will not take any income tax benefits presently given to them. Further, CEC and ECs will avail only one LTC in a year in place of three LTCs presently available to them,” the statement added.
In the past, the central government had on several occasions taken a slew of austerity measures to reign in rising expenses.