Against the backdrop of 21 AAP MLAs facing the prospect of disqualification for holding the post of parliamentary secretaries in the Delhi government, the Centre today said that the expression ‘office of profit’ has not been defined in “any law”.
The government also made it clear that taking steps for disqualifying the legislators working as parliamentary secretaries is a state subject and the central government has no role in it.
Responding to a question on whether the posts of parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the country comes under the ambit of office of profit and steps being taken to disqualify such legislators, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha that there are no posts of parliamentary secretaries to ministers in the Union of India.
“There is no reference to the post of parliamentary secretaries in the Parliament (Prevention of disqualification) Act, 1959. The expression ‘office of profit’ has not been defined in any law,” he said.
Prasad also noted that the post of parliamentary secretaries has been created in some states. “Whether such posts come within the ambit of office of profit or not depends upon the nature of post, the terms and conditions of appointment, termination, the payment attached thereto, the functions performed thereunder,” he said.
Article 191 of the Constitution states that a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a state if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the government of any state specified in the First Schedule.
Article 192 says that if any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the state legislature has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in Article 191, the issue will be referred to the governor and his decision will be final.
But before giving any decision, the Governor shall seek the opinion of the Election Commission and will act according to the opinion.