APPOINTMENT OF RAGHAV CHADHA, RS M.P. AS CHAIRMAN OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE UNDER LEGAL SCANNER
UNDER ARTICLE 102 OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION, M.P. CAN BE DISQUALIFIED IF HE HOLDS ANY OFFICE OF PROFIT UNDER GOVT WHICH IS EXPRESSLY NOT EXCLUDED BY PARLIAMENT
CHANDIGARH – The appointment of Raghav Chadha, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Member of Parliament of Rajya Sabha from the State of Punjab as Chairman of Advisory Committee (AC) by Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, has, apart from inviting political criticism by opposition parties in the State, has also come under a sort of legal scanner.
An Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar, while quoting Article 102(1)(a) of Constitution of India asserts that Member of Parliament (M.P.) of either House of Parliament can be disqualified as such if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of the State other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder.
Hemant says that in pursuance of above Article, a law namely Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 was enacted by Parliament itself as Act No. 10 of 1959 which has been amended several times in last six decades and which specifies explicit names and designations of certain offices both under the Government of India as well as Government of different States in the country the holding of whom by MPs would not disqualify them as Members of Parliament.
The Advocate further elaborated that Section 3(h) of aforementioned 1959 Act excludes the Office of Chairman or member of a committee (whether consisting of one or more members), set up temporarily for the purpose of advising the Government or any other authority in respect of any matter of public importance or for the purpose of making an inquiry into, or collecting statistics in respect of, any such matter, if the holder of such office is not entitled to any remuneration other than compensatory allowance.
Pertinent that the Advisory Committee (AC) in Punjab has been constituted vide a State Government Notification dated July 6, 2022 nevertheless as an temporary (adhoc) committee to advise the Government of Punjab on matters of public importance pertaining to Public Administration. The Chairperson and members of ibid Committee are however not entitled to any compensation, remuneration or perks of any kind or nomenclature in respect of such appointment. They shall not even be entitled to payments that are compensatory in nature, including any reimbursements.
Hence, in view of Section 3(h) of the 1959 Act, the office of Chairperson of PAC seems to be out of purview of Office of Profit.
However, Hemant recalls that when in May, 2004 UPA-1 dispensation headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh, then Prime Minister of India, came to power, immediately National Advisory Council (NAC) was constituted in June,2004 which was headed by none other than then Congress party President, Sonia Gandhi.