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Prez returns Office of Profit Bill

Kalam has asked for rethink on the issue by both Houses of Parliament.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 11:36 IST

President APJ Abdul Kalam has returned for reconsideration by the two Houses of Parliament the Bill amending the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act 1959 which exempts certain offices from being considered as offices of profit.

In doing so, he exercised the powers conferred on him by Article 111 of the Constitution.

The message he sent to the two Houses along with the Bill said there should be a comprehensive criterion that is "just, fair and reasonable" and could be applied to all states and UTs in a "clear and transparent manner".

The other two points which he asked Parliament to reconsider were about the propriety of passing the legislation with retrospective effect and the implication of including in the amendment such offices for which petitions for disqualification were already under process by competent authorities.

Sources told HT that the Bill and the presidential message had been sent to RS chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and LS Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The immediate impact of the Presidential move is built into the provisions of Article 111 that states that the legislation will have to be passed again by Parliament for it to be binding on the President. A mere return of the bill by the government to Kalam is unlikely to result in automatic assent.

Sources said Kalam studied the amendment and consulted legal and constitutional experts before arriving at the decision to return the bill.

Late on Tuesday, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat confirmed the receipt of Kalam's message. It said the matter could only be taken up during Parliament's monsoon session in July.

The Congress said just like each House was entitled to pass a Bill, the President was entitled to question it, except in cases of a money bill. Its spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said: "Naturally, full attention will be paid to the queries. But I strongly decry the Opposition's use of irresponsible words like 'immoral' or declaring the Bill, in advance, to be unconstitutional. Perhaps they are suffering from amnesia as they had passed an identical Bill in Jharkhand."

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the President's decision was a "rap on the knuckles of the UPA government" and urged the Election Commission to declare vacant the seats of those who were sought to be protected by the legislation.

First Published: May 31, 2006 10:34 IST