The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP waves court threat on profit bill

New Delhi, June 24: The BJP is gearing up to legally challenge the bill amending the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, which exempts certain offices from being considered offices of profit.

BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj said today the party would move court if the bill was passed in the monsoon session without necessary amendments to properly define the office of profit.

“I told Pranab Mukherjee after an NDA meeting that the objective of this legislation should be to properly define OoP (office of profit) and not simply to protect some people. But he kept insisting that we have to introduce the bill in its present form because disqualification of such a large number of MPs could mean fresh elections,” Sushma said.

“If they do not make any alterations in the bill when it comes up for reconsideration in the monsoon session, we would subsequently challenge it in court.”

The BJP held a meeting of its legal and legislative cell where Sushma, Sanjay Joshi and Bal Apte advised state conveners to start an awareness campaign on the BJP’s stand on the office of profit.

The BJP has two main suggestions on the bill: one, there should be no ambiguity in the definition of office of profit and it should be applicable throughout the country; two, the MPs holding offices of profit should be protected by asking them to resign from the posts.

“To prevent fresh elections, these MPs could be made to resign from their posts and there could be a provision protecting them retrospectively,” Sushma said.

The bill was passed in a special session of Parliament in April. Subsequently, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam returned it with the message that a “just, fair and reasonable” criterion should be applied to all states and Union territories in a “clear and transparent manner” for enacting this amendment.

The President also asked both Houses to reconsider the propriety of passing the legislation with retrospective effect and the implication of including such offices for which disqualification petitions were already under process.

Indications are the government would present the bill in exactly the same form in which it was passed in the special session. The BJP is again set to vote against the bill, as it did in April.

“We are not going to be party to legitimising a clear case of loot. We would vote against it in Parliament and go to court afterwards,” Sushma said.

In Jharkhand, however, the BJP-led government had passed a similar bill that was returned by the governor. Like the UPA at the Centre, the state cabinet has decided to place the bill in exactly the same form before the Assembly a second time.

“What is happening in Jharkhand is a replication of similar events everywhere. It is Parliament which has to set the right precedent,” Sushma said.

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