Staff Reporter

"Holding offices of profit"

NEW DELHI: The surprise resignation by Congress president Sonia Gandhi from the Lok Sabha as well as National Advisory Council chairpersonship has cast a dark shadow on the fate of a dozen-odd MLAs belonging to the ruling Congress party in Delhi as their future hangs in the balance now with many of them holding positions that are construed as offices of profit and do not enjoy any legislative protection under the law.

According to sources in the Delhi Government, the heat could turn on a large number of legislators of the ruling party who have been rewarded with various positions. Topping the list of possible violators is the Chief Minister's Parliamentary Secretary Naseeb Singh.

Sources say no such provision for appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary exists in the Constitution and the present position held by Mr. Naseeb Singh is an office of profit. They point out that the Election Commission is currently studying the cases of 12 Parliamentary and Chief Parliamentary Secretaries of Himachal Pradesh who have been removed after the judgment of the High Court. Mr. Naseeb Singh could feel the heat as no proper definition exists for the post of Parliamentary Secretary nor is there any provision under the law.

Not alarming

Although the situation is not alarming at present, things could get out of control if the BJP or any other individual files a complaint against these MLAs with the Election Commission and seeks initiation of proceedings to disqualify them.

Interestingly, the Delhi Government had got a legislation passed in the recently concluded budget session of the State assembly exempting the office of Chairman of the Delhi Wakf Board from being the office of profit. Before the passage of the legislation, its Chairman Mateen Ahmed, MLA, had resigned to avoid any controversy.

No proper legislation

Similarly, no proper legislative recognition exists for the post of the Chairman of the Trans-Yamuna Development Board held by former Delhi Minister Narendra Nath. Another office that could come under the scanner is the Vice-Chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board, a post currently held by Paharganj MLA Anjali Rai. She also heads the District Development Committee -- another office that has no legislative backing but the Chairman enjoys various facilities.

Delhi Govt has constituted nine District Development Committee headed by ruling party MLAs and all of them could fall under the "office of profit" category, officials say. The MLAs who are members of these DDCs include Vinay Sharma, Kanwar Karan Singh, Malaram Gangwal, Balram Tanwar, Rajesh Lilothia, Amrish Gautam, Vijay Lochav and Ashok Ahuja. These MLAs have been enjoying various facilities by virtue of holding positions of heads of DDCs and all this could fall under "office of profit" category.