SC upholds amendment to Office of Profit law

While dismissing two petitions challenging the amendment, a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said Parliament was within its power to bring in the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act with retrospective effect. After the controversy over  holding an office of profit by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party MP and film star Jaya Bachchan, the UPA government had exempted more than 40 posts from the purview of the law. It was the prerogative of Parliament to decide which particular post could be exempted from the office of profit and placed under scheduled posts, the bench said while dismissing the petitions of Consumer Education Research Society and Dinesh Trivedi, an MP from the Trinamool Congress.

They challenged the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act lleging that it was passed with retrospective effect solely to protect about 40 sitting members of Parliament. Trivedi alleged it was a “colourable” exercise of power on the part of the Centre to protect some big faces who were supporting the government. About 55 offices posts were exempted from the purview of the law after the amendment. Meanwhile, the SC on Monday declined to stay a probe by the Central Vigilance Commission on the alleged financial irregularities in the administration of Doordarshan (DD). A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said the day-to-day functioning of Prasar Bharati would be taken over by three members of the Prasar Bharti Board –– CEO B S Lalli, Member (Finance), and Member (Personnel).

However, the bench stayed the direction of the Delhi High Court to appoint Justice J P Singh, a retired High Court Judge, to supervise the functioning of the board. A PILwas filed before the high court alleging irregularities in payments to lawyers by Doordarshan.
DD has prescribed rules on payment of fees to lawyers it hires. Prasar Bharati had asked the CVC to conduct a probe. The probe was necessitated following DD director-general Aruna Sharma’s report which said that around Rs 1.10 crore was paid to six lawyers.

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