The controversy over the Office of Profit bill could have been avoided had President APJ Abdul Kalam not "erred" by sitting over the issue for 17 days, feels his Secretary PM Nair.
Nair says Kalam was duty bound to give assent to the bill when it came to him a second time but the President said he was going by his conscience.
Kalam had described his decision on Oops as the "toughest" during his term from 2002-2007.
Disqualification of SP MP Jaya Bachchan for holding an office of profit opened the floodgates for complaints against over 50 sitting MPs which were onpassed by the President to the Elections Commission as required under Article 103 of the Constitution.
Realising the gravity of the situation, the Office of Profit bill was passed by Parliament with retrospective effect ostensibly aimed at nullifying charges of disqualification against the MPs.
Kalam returned the bill for reconsideration asking Parliament to come out with a generic and comprehensive criteria applicable across all States and Union Territories in a clear and transparent manner.
The bill was passed by Parliament again without any amendment and came back to the President for assent on August one.
Under Article 111, the President has to give assent when a bill is sent back to him.
Nair said the President instead of giving assent kept it with him for too many days. Nair said he had reminded the President orally and in writing. "I told him that the Constitution of India was the conscience of the President and that Parliament had also gone strictly by the Constitution."
The President gave his assent on August 18, 2006, 17 days after he got it back. "I have not been able to stomach it even now. Would you fault me if I said that Kalam erred in this? Nair said adding he wished Kalam had not courted this controversy.