When Sonia Gandhi quit for holding Office of Profit

When Sonia Gandhi quit for holding Office of Profit

Nearly 12 years ago, the Office of Profit law had claimed its most famous scalp the then Congress President and the then National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Gandhi was accused of holding an office of profit by being a Member of Parliament as well as the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council, the latter being a post with the rank of a Cabinet minister.

The controversy arose due to an oversight by Congress' political managers who apparently forgot to seek exemption from the Office of Profit Act for the post of the Chairman, NAC. The NAC was created to advise the then UPA government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

That Gandhi too held an office of profit came to light after the Congress had stepped up a campaign against SP Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan, who also held the post of the Chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Corporation.

According to Article 102 (1)(a) of the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified as MP for holding 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.

Gandhi resigned from her Lok Sabha membership on March 23, 2006 even as the Election Commission was considering a petition against her.

While Bachchan was the first to be disqualified by Election Commission for holding office of profit, Gandhi quit as Lok Sabha member from Rae Bareli and was re-elected soon after. In the mean time, the UPA government had moved to amend the Office of Profit law to seek exemption for the post of NAC chairperson and several other posts from its ambit.

Industrialist Anil Ambani, who was also a Rajya Sabha member, also took the plea of holding office of profit and quit as member of parliament to end his brief but controversial stint in politics.

 

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