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Not holding any office of profit, says Somnath

Neena Vyas



Somanath Chattarjee

NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Friday denied the "allegations and insinuations" that he was holding an office of profit, which would attract disqualification as a Lok Sabha member.

In a statement, he said he was not aware if the complainant had even submitted a formal petition to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Apparently, the complainant, Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress, had written to Mr. Kalam alleging that Mr. Chatterjee was president of the Asiatic Society, Kolkata, and Chairman of the Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority (SSDA). The facts were wrong since Mr. Chatterjee has "never" been president of the Asiatic Society. As for the position of SSDA Chairman, which he has held since 1989, he said he "did not enjoy any profit" from that position.

"It should be remembered that any and every office under the Government is not and cannot be an office of profit. An office that does not provide any `profit' to the holder does not disqualify one from being a Member of Parliament. It depends on the facts of each case," he said.

"It is not required of me to disprove any allegation."

Refuses to resign

Mr. Chatterjee said he would not refuse to discharge his obligations as Member of Parliament. Nor would he refuse to discharge the function of Speaker, a position to which he was elected unanimously by the 14th Lok Sabha. He was concerned as an attempt was being made to "unjustifiably tarnish the image of the high Constitutional Office of Speaker, Lok Sabha."

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