Supreme Court upholds office of profit law

Published - August 24, 2009 09:24 pm IST - New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday held that the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2006 exempting 55 offices occupied by members of Parliament from disqualification was constitutionally valid.

A Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal also held that Parliament had the legislative competence and was within its power to bring the legislation with retrospective effect. It was the prerogative of Parliament to decide which particular post could be exempted from the Office of Profit. The Bench also held that there was no violation of Article 14 (equality before law) in choosing the offices as each office was different in its own way.

The court dismissed petitions filed by the Consumer Education and Research Society and Dinesh Trivedi, MP, challenging the constitutional validity of the law.

“Passed in haste”

The petitioners contended that the law was passed for the second time in undue haste without seriously addressing any of the concerns raised by the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam while returning the Bill on May 31, 2006. It was argued that the Joint Committee of Parliament on office of profit comprised 10 Lok Sabha members and five Rajya Sabha members.

It was submitted that in the past, before an ‘office of profit’ was exempted from the rigour of Article 102 (1) (a) (disqualification for holding office of profit) the same was referred to the Joint Committee for its report on whether the office referred to was an office of profit and whether or not exemption should be granted. This statutory practice was not followed in this case. The Bench rejected all the contentions.

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