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Board appointments may not be made now

T.S. Ranganna

It may happen only after the legislature reconsiders the Office of Profit Bill


  • Governor returned the Bill to the presiding officers of the two Houses with a message
  • Assembly Speaker and Council Chairman were not directed to reconsider the Bill
  • The message said any amendment should be in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution

    Bangalore: Though the coalition partners, the BJP and Janata Dal (S), have reached an understanding on appointments of chairpersons of boards and corporations, four commissions, urban development authorities and State- and district-level committees, they might not be able to do so until the legislature reconsiders the Karnataka Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill, 2006.

    Governor T.N. Chaturvedi, on July 22, returned the Bill to the presiding officers of the two Houses with a message that he was acting under Article 200 of the Constitution. According to sources in the legislature secretariat, the Governor had only sent a message and had not directed the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the Legislative Council to reconsider the Bill as has been made out by some.

    Response to letter

    According to sources in the legislature secretariat, Mr. Chaturvedi's message was in response to a letter from the Government dated June 15. He had said that he was returning the Bill, commonly known as the Office of Profit Bill, requesting Speaker Krishna and the Council Chairman Sachidanand Khot to reconsider the Bill, keeping in view the observations made by him in the letter.

    The "message," a copy of which was made available to The Hindu, said that the Governor had considered the Bill, passed by the legislature, in accordance with the provisions of Article 200 of the Constitution.

    Points

    The points made by Mr. Chaturvedi in his message are that any amendment should be in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, exclusion from the Bill could only be prospective and not retrospective and the amendment may not be in conformity with constitutional provisions and the law laid down by the Supreme Court.

    While referring to Article 191 (1) (a), which deals with disqualification of members of State legislatures for holding any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, he has said, "It may be appropriate to refer the purpose and the spirit behind the disqualification clause of persons holding office of profit. The exceptions that may be provided by a statute framed in accordance with this provision ought to be evidently in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution. It should in no way run counter to the very intention of the provisions so as to dilute or obliterate the same."

    The Governor has noted that the earlier provisions of the Karnataka Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1956 on exemption contemplated that only elected offices and persons holding such elected offices were exempted from the disqualification clause, which was in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

    Sweeping effect

    He pointed out that the amendment sought to exclude not only such elected offices but also posts, which need not necessarily be elected offices. Sub-clause 5 of Section 2 of the amended Act had a very sweeping and wide effect so as to encompass all offices under the purview of prevention of disqualification clause. Further, the issue arises whether the exemption of an office can be provided from a preceding date when it was not even in existence. This obviously is not in line with the purpose of disqualification as contemplated under Article 191 of the Constitution. It may have the effect of diluting the entire provision and the purpose for which it was originally envisaged. It would be preferable to specify or list the details of offices that are intended to be excluded.

    Retrospective effect

    The amendment to Section 3 of the Karnataka Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1956 is sought to be applicable with retrospective effect from the date the original enactment came into force.

    Any exclusion for the purpose of Article 191 would be with prospective effect only. Section 3 of the amended Act contemplates special provisions as to the validation of certain previous actions, which may not be in conformity with the constitutional provisions and the law laid down by the Supreme Court in this regard.

    The amendment aims to nullify the judgment or order of any court or tribunal or other or opinion of any other quasi-judicial statutory authority, the Governor's message said.

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