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Office of Profit & RPA

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    4th Nov, 2018
  • In 2016, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had issued a notice to the 27 MLAs as a consequence to a petition seeking disqualification for allegedly holding office for financial remuneration.
  • According to the complaint by ECI, the MLAs were illegally holding posts of chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (RKSs) of different government hospitals in Delhi

Issue

Context:

  • In 2016, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had issued a notice to the 27 MLAs as a consequence to a petition seeking disqualification for allegedly holding office for financial remuneration.
  • According to the complaint by ECI, the MLAs were illegally holding posts of chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (RKSs) of different government hospitals in Delhi
  • Such pleas are sent to the president who forwards it to the EC. The EC then gives its opinion based on which the president has to issue orders.
  • President Ramnath Kovind has dismissed a plea to disqualify 27 ruling Aam Admi Party MLAs of Delhi for allegedly holding office of profit

About:

  • The word ‘office’ has not been specifically defined in the Constitution or the Representation of the People Act of 1951.
  • Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution merely states that an MP or MLA is barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit.
  • However, different courts have interpreted it to mean a position with certain duties that are more or less of public character.
  • In simple terms, office of Profit is a position in the government which should not and cannot be held by an MLA or an MP. The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits. 
  • Disqualification for holding office of profit reinforces the concept of separation of powers, especially of the executive and legislative.
  • The rationale behind the law is to secure independence of elected representatives and refrain them from pecuniary or other favours from the executive.

Background

  • The origin of the term ‘office of profit’ can be traced to the English Act of Settlement, 1701. Under this law, "no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons."
  • Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions.
  • The debate over office of profit dates back to 1953 when the EC had to decide whether MLAs of the Vindhya Pradesh Assembly should be disqualified for appointment as members of the district advisory council. 
  • The Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of Jaya Bachchan from Rajya Sabha in 2006 over the issue of holding an office of profit while being a MP.
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