|Jaya Bachchan, Amir Alam
elected to RS
Lucknow, June 8, 2006
Two former Samajwadi Party MPs including cine star Bachchan Jaya Amitabh were on Friday elected to the Rajya Sabha unopposed.
Principal secretary (Legislative Assembly) and returning officer Rajendra Prasad Pandey announced their election.
Amir Alam Khan is the other SP candidate. He represented Kairana in Muzzafarnagar district of West Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha twice.
However, Bachchan's certificate of election was received by Uttar Pradesh Revenue Minister Ambika Chaudhary in her absence, while Khan personally received his certificate.
As there were only two candidates in the fray for as many seats, they were declared elected unopposed. Today was also the last date of withdrawing nominations.
The Opposition, unable to find a consensus candidate, decided against fielding anyone.
The main opposition, the BJP and the Congress, had already expressed their unwillingness to contest the two seats.
BSP was not keen to fight the bypolls as the winning candidate was to be decided by majority vote seperately for the two seats.
State BJP president Keshri Nath Tripathi had said as the winners would be decided seperately by majority vote of the assembly, hence the party was not interested in contesting the bypolls.
"Even a joint-opposition candidate will not be able to win as the SP-led coalition has the majority in the house," he added.
Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari had already announced the party would not contest bypolls to the Upper House.
This is Jaya Bachchan's second entry to the Rajya Sabha after 2004.
She had to resign the seat in March following the raging office-of-profit controversy.
Office-of-profit: SC dismisses
Jaya Bachchan's petition
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal said that the law on this issue is settled since 1954 and what is material is not whether the person actually received any remuneration or pecuniary gains, but whether the office he or she holds is itself of profit.
"In this view, the question whether the petitioner (Jaya Bachchan) actually received any pecuniary gain is not material" the Bench said adding that "we do not find any merit in the petition".
Senior counsel Fali Nariman had requested the court to clarify the position as there were several cases, including those from various states, pending before the Election Commission and the Commission was "wielding stick" on legislators on the office of profit issue.
The Samajwadi Party leader had sought declaring as "null and void" the President's order and EC's opinion recommending her disqualification as member of the Rajya Sabha contending that she never made actual pecuniary gains from the alleged office of profit in her position as Chairperson of Uttar Pradesh Film Development Corporation (UPFDC).
In her petition, Bachchan had said that the cases decided by the apex court under Article 102(1)(a) and Article 191(1)(a of the Constitution held that even where a post or office carries remuneration or pay, in the absence of proof of any actual pecuniary gain to the holder from that office, the holder cannot be said to be holding "an office of profit".
Jaya Bachchan was disquaified
as a member of Rajya Sabha on March 16. Her disqualification was with retrospective
effect from July 14, 2004, ten days after her election on July 4, 2004
when she was appointed to the Film Council post.
The disqualification by the President follows the recommendation of the Election Commission and takes retrospective effect from July 14, 2004, when she was appointed to the film development council post. She was elected to Rajya Sabha a month earlier.
"Having carefully considered the facts on record as contained in the opinion of the Election Commission and being fully satisfied therewith, the President has disqualified Ms Jaya Bachchan from her Rajya Sabha membership," an official release said, giving the President's decision on a petition for disqualification filed by a Congress leader Madan Mohan Shukla.
The President signed the notification last evening, the release said.
The Commission had said that Ms Bachchan became disqualified under sub-clause (a) of Clause 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution from July 14, 2004 following her appointment by the Uttar Pradesh Government as Chairperson of the state film development council.
Under Article 102 and 103 of the Constitution, which provides for the disqualification of MPs on various grounds, the President decides when a question arises in this regard in consultation with the EC.
After the President's decision, the Commission will have to hold a byelection to the vacancy arising out of her disqualification.
While one petition has been filed against Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, the TDP has petitioned the President against Sonia Gandhi on the grounds that she held an office of profit by virtue of being the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation aided by the government, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trusts.
The TDP has also sought the disqualification of Union Minister T Subarami Reddy and Dr Karan Singh.
Even during the election process, Mr Shukla had filed a petition against her seeking the disqualification of her candidature. But she resigned from the post and was re-appointed after her election.
Ms Bachchan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the EC recommendation and sought its views on what constituted an office of profit.
Undeterred, SP says it will renominate
Speaking to the media, SP general-secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh said, ‘‘Our party will support Jaya Bachchan again and we will have the strength in the House yet again to bring her back to victory. We will give her name as and when the notification for the election is announced. It could take a few weeks.’’
Singh almost upstaged Bachchan and her dramatic disqualification today from the Upper House, when he marched up to President A P J Kalam with his own resignation letter in his pocket. But counsel prevailed on Singh, he admitted, when his leader UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav asked him not to take any decision without consulting the party’s parliamentary board.
After Jaya Bachchan, BJP targets Sonia
“Prima facie, Sonia Gandhi’s position as chairperson of the National Advisory Council too attracts provisions of disqualification under the Constitution,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told newspersons here.
“Jaya Bachchan’s disqualification is in
accordance with the law. We will now be verifying Sonia Gandhi’s position
as chairperson of the NAC on the same lines,” Mr Javadekar said.
Jaya Bachchan loses RS seat
In another blow to the Samajwadi Party, the President, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, has referred a complaint to the poll panel demanding disqualification of Mr Amar Singh as MP, as he was holding office of profit as Chairman of the U P Development Council.
The Election Commission has sent its recommendations to Dr Kalam, who had sought an opinion based on the complaint filed by Mr Madan Mohan, a losing Congress candidate against Jaya Bachchan in the election from Uttar Pradesh. Mr Mohan has filed a similar complaint against Mr Amar Singh.
Under the Constitution, the President decides whether a sitting member has incurred disqualification in consultation with the EC. Article 102 (1)(a) bars an MP from holding any office of profit under the Government of India or in any state other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder.
Experts were of the view that the President is bound by the EC recommendation, which is notified in the official gazette.
However, the Rajya Sabha member of the Samajwadi Party has threatened to move the Supreme Court against the disqualification. Jaya Bachchan alleged that "the complaint has come from the Congress party. It is a shame that people like us are not allowed to sit in Parliament," Jaya Bachchan said accusing the political rivals of small mindedness.
Pointing out that she was a recipient of Padma Shri award while her husband Amitabh Bachchan was a Padma Bhushan like his father Harvanshrai Bachchan, Jaya said she had not "grabbed" the Rajya Sabha seat from anyone.
The Commission had in October last year issued notice to Jaya Bachchan, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha on a Samajwadi Party ticket, on a complaint that she was holding an office of profit and hence should be disqualified from Parliament.
The Election Commission had acted on a reference from the office of the President.
EC sources said that the Commission had sent its opinion last week after hearing the candidate and following due process.
The UPFDC chairmanship confers cabinet rank perks. She was elected to the Upper House in July 2004 on a Samajwadi Party ticket.
Jaya Bachchan had earlier informed the EC that her post in the UPFDC was not an office of profit and the council was purely advisory board and had not taken any salary or honorarium for her services.
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