Punjab cabinet approves bill to allow MLAs hold office of profit

Amendement to be tabled in upcoming assembly session, will entitle MLAs to get compensatory allowance as chairman, members of advisory, inquiry panels too

punjab Updated: Aug 22, 2018 10:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab cabinet,office of profit,MLAs
Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh presiding over the cabinet meeting in Chandigarh,(HT Photo)

The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday paved the way for allowing MLAs to hold office of profit by amending the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952, that prohibits elected representatives from doing so.

It is being seen as the ruling Congress’ bid to placate disgruntled party MLAs left out in the cabinet expansion that took place in April this year. MLAs from Scheduled Caste and backward classes who had aired resentment over inadequate representation to the community are also likely to be adjusted. A government spokesman, however, said the amendments are aimed at addressing the “complexities of modern day governance”.

The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2018, to be tabled in Punjab assembly session that begins on August 24 will entitle MLAs to a compensatory allowance along with pay and perks of a legislator. Through a new Section 1(A) incorporated in the bill, compensatory allowance is defined as expenditure incurred in performing functions of that office. It will cover daily allowance, conveyance allowance, house rent allowance and travelling allowance.

OTHER BILLS TO BE TABLED IN ASSEMBLY
  • Reservation to SC employees in promotions: The cabinet okayed the introduction of a bill to restore 14% reservation in Group A and B and 20% reservation in Group C and D to members of Scheduled Castes in promotions. The enactment of the legislation would allow benefit of reservation in promotion as provided in Article 16(4)(A) of the Constitution of India with effect from February 20, 2018.
  • Punjab State Higher Education Council: The cabinet approved constitution of Punjab State Higher Education Council by bringing a bill in the state assembly. The council will be headed by the CM and will have higher education minister as its vice-chairman.
  • LoP allowed to use private car: The Punjab cabinet accepted the proposal of department of parliamentary affairs to allow leader of opposition in Punjab assembly to use his private car in lieu of government car, which would be returned by him to the government.
  • PMIDF Act extended: The cabinet also approved the proposal of local government department for amending the validity of Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Fund (PMIDF) Act, 2011, to extend its validity till 2037-38, from the earlier 2020-21.

The section will also define organisations as statutory or non-statutory and add new categories of office of profit such as chairman and members of advisory and inquiry committees, besides chairmen, vice-chairmen and members of boards and corporations.

Though most of Punjab’s 60-odd boards and corporations are in the red, some, such as state planning board, Markfed, Milkfed, Mandi Board, Punsup and Punjab Agro are seen as plum postings. Only eight boards and corporations in Punjab can have an MLA as chairman.

The bill would amend Section 2 of the Representation of People’s Act to include the office of chairman or member of a committee, set up temporarily for the purpose of advising the government or any authority on a matter of public importance or for making an inquiry if the holder of such office is not entitled to any remuneration other than compensatory allowance. The positions will also include the office of chairman, director or member of any statutory or non-statutory body, if the holder of such office is not entitled to any remuneration other than compensatory allowance.

Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution bar an MP or MLA from holding an office of profit — a position that can yield some financial benefit. It can attract disqualification from either House of Parliament, if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or any state government, other than an office declared by Parliament by law that does not disqualify its holder. Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is ground for disqualification. On July 14, Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore had refused to give his assent to the ordinance and asked the government to table the bill in the House.

The cabinet observed a two-minute silence as mark of respect to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away on August 16.

The cabinet also decided to extend contract of 516 veterinary pharmacists and 531 safai sewaks up to March 30, 2019.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 10:22 IST