Election Commission seeks comments from petitioner

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Friday sought ``comments, if any," from Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress on the information furnished by the Chief Secretary of the West Bengal Government relating to the offices held by eight Members of Parliament, including Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

The decision to seek the comments from Mr. Roy was taken by the Commission on Thursday after perusing the materials supplied by the State Government.

In a letter despatched on Friday, the Commission asked Mr. Roy to give his comments, if any by August 25.

Mr. Roy's petitions sent to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam seeking disqualification of the eight MPs were earlier forwarded to the Commission. As the petitions did not contain specific details, the Commission asked the State Government to furnish the necessary information on the offices held by the eight MPs.

The State Government, in its response, maintained that none of the eight MPs attracted the disqualification as alleged by the complainant since the offices held by them did not carry any salary, fee, emoluments or allowances. In the light of this information, the Commission decided to seek comments, if any from Mr. Roy.

Election Commission sources indicated that the entire issue had now become infructuous in view of the assent given by the President to the amended bill on office of profit. The Act exempts various offices, including those held by the eight MPs, from the purview of disqualification.

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