|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Office of Profit law to be amended
May 10, 2006 00:57 IST
With over 40 members of Parliament and over 200 state legislators across the political spectrum facing disqualification petitions, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday night decided to amend the law seeking to exempt more posts from being considered an office of profit but it was unclear whether the Chairmanship of National Advisory Council is among them.
After less than two months of attacks and counter attacks in the wake of disqualification of Samajwadi Party member Jaya Bachchan for holding office of profit and abrupt end to first phase of budget session of Parliament, the government finally decided to make changes in the existing law by evolving a political consensus.
The bill to be brought in Parliament next week will amend Section Three of the Prevention of Disqualification of MPs Act, 1959 and would not amend the Constitution that provides for disqualification of MPs and legislators holding offices of profit. It is understood that the draft of the law prepared seeks to exempt NAC Chairmanship from which Sonia Gandhi had resigned along with her Lok Sabha seat on March 23 facing disqualification petition filed by BJP and TDP.
Prior to the Cabinet meeting, Gandhi had a meeting with senior Congress leaders at her residence amidst reports that she was averse to inclusion of NAC Chairmanship in the proposed law. There was no finality about the issue and there was also indication whether she is going to occupy the post again.
The decision of the Cabinet comes in the wake of strong demands from Left parties whose several MPs including Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee faces disqualification petition on the ground they held offices of profit. Briefing the media after the cabinet meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi declined to specify whether the NAC chief's post was sought to be exempted.
"There is no question of saving anybody's skin. It is the question of saving the dignity of Parliament," Dasmunsi said when told that all political parties are joining hands to save everybody's skin. While taking the decision, the Cabinet authorised Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to hold consultations with all political parties to prepare a comprehensive list of offices of profit which are to be kept out of the harm's way.
The issue of legislation has gained urgency in the light of Tuesday's Supreme Court judgement, which has sent alarm bells ringing among various parties whose leaders could be affected by the petitions. The Bill may also seek to exempt the post of Chairman of Shriniketan-Shantiniketan Development Authority from list of office of profit.