The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Profit plea on PM and PC
Singh, Chidambaram

New Delhi, Aug. 25: The President has forwarded to the Election Commission a petition seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram as MPs on the ground that they hold “offices of profit” in the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

The complaint, filed by a person whose identity has not been disclosed till late tonight, was submitted to Rashtrapati Bhavan two days ago.

The website of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, a private trust that receives grants from the government, names the Prime Minister and the finance minister as trustees. Manmohan is a Rajya Sabha MP, while Chidambaram is a Lok Sabha member.

The recently amended prevention of disqualification act, which lists 45 offices that have been given immunity, does not specifically mention the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

But the draft of the amendment bill did have a sweeping clause that offers protection to posts in trusts.

According to the draft, exemption from disqualification covers “the office of chairperson or trustee (by whatever name called) of any trust, whether public or private, not being a body specified in the schedule”.

It is not clear whether this crucial sentence remains intact in the final bill, which was passed last week after weeks of uncertainty because the President had initially sent the legislation back citing certain reservations. Since the bill was passed only last Friday, the updated text has not yet been widely circulated.

Government sources said as far as they can recall, the draft was retained as such in the final bill. In that case, there is little cause for concern for Manmohan and Chidambaram.

The sources said the trust does not fall under the office of profit purview as the government does not make appointments to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

However, if any grey area remains, the Election Commission is free to raise questions as it did in Jaya Bachchan’s case and disqualified her.

Email This Page