‘Plea on ‘Office of Profit’ dismissed by President’

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    15th Sep, 2020

Context

President Ram Nath Kovind has dismissed a plea to disqualify YSRCP Rajya Sabha Member V Vijayasai Reddy, accusing him of holding an office of profit.

Background

  • TDP leader C Ramakotaiah filed a petition filed under Article 102 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India, claiming that Reddy held office of profit as he had been appointed a Special Representative of the Andhra Pradesh Government at Andhra Bhavan in New Delhi.
  • President Kovind referred the petition to the Election Commission (EC), seeking its opinion.
  • The EC opined that in view of the provisions contained in the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, Reddy did not incur disqualification for being a Member of Parliament.
  • Based on the opinion given by EC, the President dismissed the plea for Reddy’s disqualification.

About

What is an office of profit?

  • An office of profit is a position in the government which cannot be held by an MLA or an MP.
  • The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits. The origin of this term can be found in 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."
  • This was instituted so that there wouldn't be any undue influence from the royal household in administrative affairs.

What constitutes an ‘office of profit’?

  • An office of profit has been interpreted to be a position that brings to the office-holder some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit. The amount of such profit is immaterial.
  • In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that the test for determining whether a person holds an office of profit is the test of appointment. Several factors are considered in this determination including factors such as:
    • whether the government is the appointing authority
    • whether the government has the power to terminate the appointment
    • whether the government determines the remuneration
    • what is the source of remuneration
    • the power that comes with the position

Why should an MLA or an MP not hold an office of profit?

  • According to Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, 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.
  • A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament-
    • if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder.
  • Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is grounds for disqualification.
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