MPs for special panel to examine office of profit

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New Delhi, May 16: Members in the Lok Sabha, barring the BJP, by and large today supported the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2006, but suggested constitution of a special parliamentary committee to examine and redefine clearly the issue of office of profit.

Initiating discussion on the Bill, introduced earlier in the day by Law Minister H R Bhardwaj, Ms Maneka Gandhi (BJP) opposed the Bill describing it as a ''cynical excercise''.

She said the Bill had ''brought back her unhappy memories'' when she had been removed four years ago from the post of Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Board, holding it as office of profit, 42 years after the post was created. A joint secretary was then made the chief of the organisation.

Ms Gandhi said the ruling party had ensured the disqualification of Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan from the house on the ground of holding office of profit, ''but the move backfired''.

Without mentioning the name of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, she claimed that Parliament was adjourned sine die to facilitate the issuance of ordinance to save the National Advisory Council chairperson, who was drawing perks from the Prime Minister's Office while holding the office of profit.

She alleged that Parliament had been reconvened only to ensure continuance of the perks and benefits of 45 persons by exempting them from the purview of office of profit. The amended Bill may have importance for those individuals but ultimately it is a ''cynical and bizarre excecise''.

She said the Parliamentary norm had been abandoned by not sending the Bill to the Standing Committee.

Ms Gandhi said no attempt was made to arrive at a consensus on the issue but every party had rushed to give its list of those holding office of profit to get exemption. While certain posts had been exempted others had been left out, she added.

''The Bill only adds to confusion,'' the BJP member said adding today 46 posts were being exempted but tomorrow 100 of them may be exempted.

Referring to the Speaker facing disqualifaction on the gorund of holding office of profit, she said, "Caesar should be above suspicion.''


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