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Lok Sabha passes Office of Profit Bill
May 16, 2006 15:20 IST
Last Updated: May 16, 2006 19:17 IST
A Bill providing exemption to 46 posts, including the National Advisory Council chairmanship, from the purview of the office of profit was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2006 seeks to bring changes in the 1959 Act by exempting more posts from the purview of the office of profit.
The bill was passed by voice vote amid opposition by the National Democratic Alliance with some of its members staging a walkout.
Replying to the debate, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj said the proposed legislation will put in place a system whereby definition of office of profit will be clear.
Emphasising that everyone's suggestions have been taken care of, he said the government has no ill will against anybody but lashed out at the opposition for attacking Sonia Gandhi.
"We have respect for everyone, every political leader. But still our leader is attacked," the minister said.
Amid thumping of desks by treasury benches, he said the Congress president had shown ethical and moral values and principles, which were lacking in others.
Earlier in the day, the Bharatiya Janata Party had trooped out of the House after Leader of the Opposition L K Advani accused the government of 'bulldozing' the measure. Objecting to the inclusion of the NAC post in the exemption list, Advani said, "Sonia as NAC chief had become a 'super prime minister. Everyone agreed that the office of the prime minister had been devalued and diminished."
He contended that if the NAC post was to be exempted, then the government should have come out with a Constitutional amendment instead of a simple Bill as the post was virtually a Constitutional office.
Contesting this, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj said NAC chairmanship was not a Constitutional office. "It is not even a statutory office," he said, adding that Advani lacked knowledge of Parliamentary law.
The Leader of the House and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee refuted Advani's charge that he was not consulted on the measure. Sonia was not present in the House when the Opposition raised procedural issues.
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who has been charged with holding the office of profit, did not preside over the proceedings when the issue was taken up on grounds of propriety.
The law minister said the government decided to adopt the measure in the eventuality of 40 parliamentarians losing membership for holding office of profit.
The bill seeks to exempt more posts from the purview of the office of profit. These include Sriniketan Santiniketan Development Authority headed by the Speaker, UP Development Council led by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, and the now defunct All India Council of Sports earlier headed by BJP deputy leader V K Malhotra with retrospective effect.
Besides 40 parliamentarians (many of them from Left parties), 200 legislators are facing disqualification petitions on the office of profit issue. The list includes the posts of Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts, the president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations and chairperson of the Delhi Rural Development Board.
Kapila Vatsayan, Karan Singh and Sajjan Kumar, who headed these bodies, have already tendered their resignations from the posts.