President Pranab Mukherjee’s refusal to sign a bill that sought to protect 21 AAP MLAs from disqualification under the office of profit law appears to have put the Delhi government in a spot.
What can the Arvind Kejriwal government do now? Can it send the bill back to the President in its original form? Or can it amend it and send the amended version to the President?
According to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Act, 1991, when a Bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly, it has to be presented to the Lieutenant Governor, who can either give his assent to it or send it to the President for consideration.
Section 25 of the GNCTD Act says, the President can either give or withhold his assent to the Bill. It further says, the President may direct the Lieutenant Governor to return the Bill to the Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly has the option of passing the bill and sending it to the President again. “When a Bill is so returned, the Assembly shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the Assembly with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration,” the GNCTD Act reads.
The provision is similar to Article 201 of the Constitution which deals with bills sent by state assemblies to the President for reconsideration.
Mukherjee has sent back at least 10 bills to various states ever since the NDA came to power.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap said the President may not reconsider the bill sent to him again.
“Since in this case, the President has rejected the Bill outright, the question of reconsideration does not arise. It is not a case where the President has sent the Bill back for reconsideration,” Kashyap told HT.
“The Assembly passing such a bill was a tacit acceptance that these are offices of profit. Since, it is rejected by the President, these legislators may face disqualification,” Kashyap said adding the President takes the opinion of the Election Commission before taking any decision in these matters.
Nearly a third of AAP legislators face disqualification after the President refused to sign a bill that allowed the 21 MLAs to hold a second paying position as parliamentary secretary.
The Constitution prohibits legislators or parliamentarians from holding any positions with monetary or other benefits. This clause – known as office of profit – is aimed at reducing conflict-of-interest situations for public representatives.