Bill reflects will to profit from office | india | Hindustan Times
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Bill reflects will to profit from office

IN A bid to put an end to the office-of-profit controversy, the government intends to protect the office of the National Advisory Council chairperson and at least 28 other posts from the provisions of the Prevention of Disqualification of MPs Act, 1959.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 14:10 IST
JAY Raina

IN A bid to put an end to the office-of-profit controversy, the government intends to protect the office of the National Advisory Council chairperson and at least 28 other posts from the provisions of the Prevention of Disqualification of MPs Act, 1959.

A bill to amend the Act is to be introduced early next week in the second segment of the Parliament's budget session (beginning on Wednesday).

The draft amendment bill that was okayed on Tuesday by the cabinet, chaired by the PM, will need simple majority support in Parliament since it will not be a constitutional amendment bill.

Regarding the office of the chairperson of the NAC -- headed earlier by Congress president Sonia Gandhi -- sources said the changes would ensure smooth monitoring and implementation of the National Common Minimum Programme and other socio-economic development programmes across the country. But the decision on whether Sonia should head the NAC has been left to her.

In the list of 28 autonomous bodies, institutions and authorities to be inserted to the 1959 Act for protection against any kind of disqualification, at least 14 are West Bengal-centric. This includes the Sriniketan Santiniketan Development Authority headed by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The Uttar Pradesh Development Council chaired by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and the Irrigation and Flood Control Commission from the same state will also inserted in the list of exempted bodies. The new additions to the protected list of offices of profit will be in effect retrospectively from April 4, 1959.

Currently, around 250 petitions against legislators (including 46 MPs) are pending before the EC. Jaya Bachchan has already been disqualified from the Rajya Sabha under the existing law.

The cabinet note on the proposed amendments to the 1959 Act makes a reference to about 40 or more members of both Houses of Parliament facing disqualification on account of holding offices of profit as chairpersons or members of various statutory and non-statutory bodies.

Defending the urgency to amend the 1959 Act, government sources told HT that if the current uncertainty continued, it might lead to more litigation and the vacation of seats in Parliament, necessitating by-elections. After the cabinet meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said the exemption list in the existing law may go beyond 28 after consultations with political parties.