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SC issues notice to Centre on OoP Bill

The plea challenges the constitutional validity of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2006.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 01:18 IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the central government on a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2006 that exempts 45 offices from the purview of disqualification.

Responding to a petition filed by a Trinamool Congress MP, a three-judge bench comprising Justices KG Balakrishnan, PP Naolekar and DK Jain issued the notice during `mention time' after hearing senior counsel Harish Salve.

The petitioner Dinesh Trivedi said the act, notified on August 18, was wholly arbitrary and discriminatory. He said that as admitted in the statement of objects and reasons, it had been passed with retrospective effect solely to protect about 40 sittings MPs, who had been facing disqualification proceedings before the Election Commission.

According to him, it was passed for the second time in undue haste without seriously addressing any of the concerns raised by President APJ Abdul Kalam in his message while returning the bill on May 31.

Trivedi submitted that before resorting to the wholesale exemption of 45 offices of profit and that too with retrospective effect, the existing joint committee of parliament should have been asked to look into each one of the offices of profit in question as well as consider the concerns expressed by Kalam.

He said the act had been enacted in self-interest and not public interest and had nullified the objective and principle underlying Article 102 (1) (a) of the Constitution.

The petitioner sought a direction to declare the act as unconstitutional and void and an interim stay of its operation.

The office of profit controversy erupted after Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan was disqualified earlier this year from the Rajya Sabha for holding an official post as chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Corporation while being an MP.

The Election Commission recommended her disqualification following a complaint by an Uttar Pradesh Congress leader who lost to her in the election to the upper house.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had quit her Lok Sabha membership after the Opposition accused her of holding an office of profit as chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC).

First Published: Aug 23, 2006 19:28 IST