President Ramnath Kovind has dismissed a plea to disqualify 27 ruling Aam Admi Party MLAs of Delhi for allegedly holding office of profit by being appointed as chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis attached to various city hospitals.
The decision was based on an opinion tendered by the Election Commission in July, stating that the said office was exempt from purview of ‘office of profit’ under provisions of the Delhi MLAs (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997.
Government of NCT of Delhi, in its submission to EC, had made it clear that Rogi Kalyan Samitis were constituted by it and that their chairpersons were not entitled to any remuneration and would therefore fall under the exemption granted by item 14 of the Schedule of the Delhi MLAs (Removal of Disqualification) Act. The Act provides for exemption of office of chairman, vice-chairman and members of the hospital advisory committee, Delhi, from purview of “office of profit”.
If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an “office of profit”. A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.
What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?
Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191. They can be disqualified for: a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government; b) Being of unsound mind; c) Being an undischarged insolvent; d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.
Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions. In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure.