07 November, 2019
4 Min Read
Syllabus subtopic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
News: President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected a petition demanding disqualification of 11 AAP MLAs belonging to Aam Aadmi Party for allegedly holding office of profit. The decision of the President rejecting the plea is based on an opinion rendered by the Election Commission.
Prelims focus: About office of profit and its conditions
Mains focus: Criticisms and controversies and ways to address them.
About the issue
About the ‘office of profit’?
Criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?
Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191. They can be disqualified for:
a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government;
b) Being of unsound mind;
c) Being an undischarged insolvent;
d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.
What is the underlying principle for including ‘office of profit’ as criterion for disqualification?
Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions. In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure. The intent is that there should be no conflict between the duties and interests of an elected member.
The office of profit law simply seeks to enforce a basic feature of the Constitution- the principle of separation of power between the legislature and the executive.
Role of Judiciary:
The Supreme Court in Pradyut Bordoloi vs Swapan Roy (2001) outlined the four broad principles for determining whether an office attracts the constitutional disqualification.
The Supreme Court, while upholding the disqualification of Jaya Bachchan from Rajya Sabha in 2006, had said that for deciding the question as to whether one is holding an office of profit or not, what is relevant is whether the office is capable of yielding a profit or pecuniary gain and not whether the person actually obtained a monetary gain.
Source: The Hindu
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