The Election Commission of India “unanimously” decided that “CEC and ECs will not take any income tax benefits presently given to them
New Delhi: Five days after assuming charge as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Rajiv Kumar held the first Election Commission meeting on Friday where he re-evaluated the perks and privileges available to him and election commissioners. Kumar voluntarily gave up the tax exemption on the hospitality allowance extended to him, and limited the leave travel concessions (LTC) extended to him and other commissioners and their families, said the poll panel in a statement.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) “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,” said a statement issued by the poll panel.
The press release added, the “Commission felt the need of observing austerity in personal entitlements… It was decided to send the proposal to the Central government for appropriate action.”
Earlier, a monthly hospitality/entertainment allowance of ₹34,000 was issued to the CEC and the ECs which was non-income tax payable. This allowance was to be used for when guests or dignitaries visited the commission. Apart from this, three LTCs were provided in a year for self, spouse and dependent members of the family which made travel affordable for them.
So far, the perks enjoyed by the CEC and ECs, which are equivalent to those offered to Supreme Court judges, include rent-free accommodation, conveyance allowance and medical allowance, among other benefits.
In February 2020, one of the suggestions in the Union budget was to do away with tax exemptions that election commissioners enjoyed. The budget stated that these exemptions should be done away with by April 2021 for not just EC members, but also members of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).