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SC notices on Office of Profit petition
September 14, 2006 18:13 IST
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the Centre, Election Commission of India, Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act 2006.
The Act was brought in to protect the members who were facing disqualification proceedings for holding Office of Profit.
The petition filed by Consumer Education and Research Society has prayed to the court to stay the retrospective operation of the impugned Act and also seek directions restraining respondent no. 2 to 5 from dealing with complaints filed against several MPs which are pending before the Election Commission, on the basis of retrospective effect.
A bench comprising Mr Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia made the notices returnable within eight weeks.
Earlier former Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee appearing for the petitioner contended that the impugned Act was aimed at protecting about 40 MPs who include several Cabinet ministers and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee who are facing disqualification for holding Office of Profit during their tenure as MPs and is violative of articles 14, 102 (1 A) and 103 of the Constitution.
In all, 55 Offices of Profit have been taken out of the ambit of the definition of the Office of Profit.
President A P J Abdul Kalam had returned the Bill for reconsideration by the Parliament and the government returned the Bill without making any changes. Later the President gave his consent to the Bill.
The petitioner has also pleaded for striking down of the Act as unconstitutional.
The Office of Profit controversy started with the disqualification of Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan from Rajya Sabha. Later Congress President Sonia Gandhi had to resign from Lok Sabha and re-contest from Amethi.
Sonia Gandhi had to resign as Chairperson of National Advisory Council.
The court also directed to tag the petition with another petition pending in the court on the same issue for hearing.