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Parliament meet from May 10-23 to redefine office-of-profit

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 30 (UNI) Showing urgency under mounting political pressure, the government today decided to convene a Parliament session from May 10-23 to redifine the law on the office of profit and bail out several MPs, including Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, facing possible disqualification.

Coming within a week of the resignation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi as an MP over the office-of-profit controversy, the nature and scope of the new law will be finalised on the basis of suggestions from various parties.

Lok Sabha Leader and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee will write to all the parties which have representation in Parliament, seeking their views at an early date, but without setting any deadline.

The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters.

Petitions demanding the disqualification of at least 10 Left party MPs, including Mr Chatterjee, Ms Gandhi and seven other MPs have been filed with President A P J Abdul Kalam, who has since forwarded them to the Election Commission seeking its recommendation, which will be binding on the office of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The EC has already begun action on the petitions by seeking additional details from the complainants, including those who have sought the disqualification of Ms Gandhi, despite the fact that she has quit as an MP and as Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC), the alleged office of profit. Dr Karan Singh and Ms Kapila Vatsayan have also quit.

However, it is not clear whether the government would seek any breather from the EC or Dr Kalam, pending enactment of the new law to take the sting out of Article 102 of the Constitution, which empowers the President to disqualify MPs for holding office of profit, and the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 which lists the offices exempted from the purview of disqualification.

Mr Dasmunsi said the reconvened Parliament session would be treated as the regular second leg of the Budget session as the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha had not yet been prorogued, though the two Houses were adjourned sine die at the end of the first part on March 22. Proroguing would have necessitated a fresh notification from the President.

The government would now request the presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to reconvene the two Houses to have their ''post-sine die sittings'' under the original schedule drawn up for the post-recess Budget session, he said.

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