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Lok Sabha passes Office of Profit Bill
July 31, 2006 21:55 IST
Amid stiff resistance from the Opposition, Parliament on Monday gave its approval without any change for the controversial Office of Profit Bill. This now exempts 56 posts and gives reprieve to over 40 MPs who could have faced disqualification, a measure returned by President A P J Abdul Kalam for reconsideration.
At the end of an acrimonious day-long debate, the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha with 230 voting in favour and 71 against, with the government expressing readiness to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the definition of Office of Profit and other suggestions.
"Shame, shame," shouted members from the BJP-led Opposition benches as leader of Opposition L K Advani issued warning that the government could suffer judicial admonishment and made a forceful appeal for reconsideration.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee, who had been accused of violating office of profit, were not present in the House when the Bill was passed, and nor was Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who is facing a disqualification petition on the issue.
Despite Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal announcing passage of the measure, the Opposition insisted on a division, which was accepted.
Replying to the debate, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj rejected opposition contentions that the President had been shown any discourtesy or disrespect by the government by not accepting his suggestions during the reconsideration of the measure.
Kalam, while returning the Bill on May 30 to Parliament, some 15 days after it was approved, had wanted a generic and comprehensive criteria of office of profit, and had questioned its applicability retrospectively.