Was Mani Shankar Aiyar holding an office of profit when he was chosen as Presidential nominee for the Rajya Sabha?
The Congress leader, who is expected to take oath as a member of the Upper House on April 15, resigned as honorary advisor of the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST) after his nomination was announced on March 19 and notified on March 22.
Aiyar could face trouble if his nomination is challenged, as any resignation is considered effective only from the date it is sent/received by the presiding officer. In Aiyar’s case, the letter, in which he said he is resigning his seat with effect from March 19, is dated March 27.
Holding an office of profit at the time of being chosen a member of the House can invite disqualification.
Article 102 of the Constitution says that a person shall be disqualified for “being chosen as and for being a member” of either House of Parliament if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any state.
As an honorary advisor of BPST, Aiyar got an honararium and government accommodation and, therefore, held an office of profit. The position is not among the posts exempted as an office of profit under Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act.
“I know of no infirmity in my nomination nor have I any information of any objection having been made. If any objections are raised, they shall of course be answered,” Aiyer told HT.
In not fool-proofing Aiyar’s nomination, the Congress may also have put the office of the President in an embarrassing position.
The Congress leader was abroad when his name was announced for the Upper House. But on his way through Delhi on March 26, he sent his resignation letter.
In 2006, the party had put its president, Sonia Gandhi, in an embarrassing position when it failed to ensure that the chairmanship of the National Advisory Council was exempted as office of profit. Gandhi quit the NAC, resigned her Lok Sabha seat and sought re-election.