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Sonia gets no salary, perks

The Congress on Monday said that Sonia Gandhi was not holding an office of profit as chairperson of the NAC, rejecting in the process the Opposition?s allegation.
None | By Saroj Nagi, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 21, 2006 02:12 AM IST

The Congress on Monday said that Sonia Gandhi was not holding an office of profit as chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC), rejecting in the process the Opposition’s allegation.

“Comparisons between the NAC and other posts are intended to mislead and beguile. Jaya Bachchan’s case is unique since there was a finding on the facts of her case by the EC, which held her occupying an office of profit. No finding exists in the other case. Secondly, the NAC chairperson neither holds an office nor receives any profit; nor is it under the government in any manner,’’ said Abhishek Singhvi, AICC spokesman.

According to Singhvi, the NAC does not constitute an office of profit as it is an advisory body whose recommendations are not binding. Also, Sonia’s appointment as NAC chairperson only  gives her  cabinet rank and does not confer any salary or perks to her. This is quite unlike Bachchan’s case, where her appointment as  UP Film Development Council (UPFDC) chairperson also mention tbe salary and perks that go with the job. He added that the terms of appointment also help decide whether  the holder is occupying an office of profit or not.

Bachchan was  disqualified as a member of the Rajya Sabha on March 17, with effect from July 14, 2004  (the day she became UPFDC chief). While the Presidential Order has been notified, the RS Secretariat is yet to address issues relating to the salary and perks she drew during this period  and the record of her participation in House proceedings.

“We will seek the law ministry’s opinion on these issues as there is no precedent to go by,’’ said Yogendra Narain, RS secretary general. Section 107 of the RPA Act only states that when a high court unseats a member, all his actions remain valid. But there is no precedent of the President disqualifying a member with retrospective effect. 

While MPs are governed by the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 — which lists  offices that wouldn’t attract disqualification — Bachchan’s case has led to  a spate of over 40  petitions to the President, including those relating to  MoS Subbirami Reddy who heads the Tirupathi Devasthan Board, and Rajya Sabha MP Karan Singh, who heads the ICCR.

Petition against Azam Khan

Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon on Monday said the Election Commission had received a petition seeking the disqualification of UP minister and SP leader Azam Khan on charges of holding an office of profit.

Tandon said that the petition, forwarded by the UP governor, alleges that Khan, as UP Jal Nigam chairman, is holding an office of profit. A similar petition has also been received from the Himachal Pradesh governor against 12 legislators. “The Commission issued notices to them and their replies have been received. We’ve also fixed a date for their hearing.”

On whether the EC had received more petitions from the President regarding persons holding offices of profit, Tandon said only one petition regarding SP leader Amar Singh had been referred.  On the NDA representation to the President against the continuance of election commissioner Navin Chawla for alleged links with the Congress, Tandon said the matter was under his consideration.

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