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Parliament approves Bill on office of profit 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
Parliament has approved a bill that provides for exempting 56 posts, including the Chairperson of National Advisory Council, from being considered office of profit with the Rajya Sabha today passing the Bill amid a walkout by the BJP.

The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2006, seeking to amend the 1959 Act, was passed by the Rajya Sabha after a division, with 109 voting in favour and three against. The division was pressed by Trinamool Congress member Dinesh Trivedi after BJP members staged a walkout.

The Bill had been passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday.

Replying to the spirited debate on the Bill, Law Minister H. R. Bharadwaj said the government had tried for consensus on the Bill which was in “public good.” Responding to members demand for definition of what constitutes an office of profit, Mr Bhardwaj said no definition could be coined without a constitutional amendment.

Mr Bhardwaj, who had heated arguments with the BJP members during reply to the debate, said it was wrong to assume that the Bill was intended to benefit MPs from Left parties and Treasury benches. He said several posts, including that of Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, parliamentary party whips and some chairmen of national commissions had earlier been exempted from being considered office of profit.

Referring to the case of Ms Jaya Bachchan, Mr Bhardwaj said no member of House should be disqualified. He said “ways and means” could have been found had the matter pertaining to Ms Jaya Bachchan been brought to his notice when it was being heard by the Election Commission. He said the opposition should not cast aspersion on the members’ integrity by mentioning corruption in the context of “office of profit” debate.

Earlier, participating in the debate Mr Dinesh Trivedi said that the Bill sought to “change the course of law and favour a few people.” He said the Bill should be taken to the committee of Ethics as it “compromises the dignity of the House.”

BJP leader Atun Jaitley said the Bill was an “exercise to protect” some MPs for holding offices of profit.

He charged the Left parties with having common interest in getting the Bill passed as several of the offices sought to be exempted in the Bill had some “West Bengal connection.” He said the Bill had something to do with preserving the government and a common factor was that almost every post sought to be exempted had a face behind it.


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