India Intelligence Report

   Kalam Returns OoP Bill


President Abdul Kalam returned the controversial Office of Profit Bill that sought to exempt some 50 odd positions occupied by allies and Congressmen from disqualification and asked for clarifications from the Government before he could sign it. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government passed this bill in a hurry without defining a process for consideration or disqualification

Kalam asked the Government to:

  • Ensure that there is uniform applicability of the law in all States and Union Territories

  • Fill the loopholes in the proposed law to positions are not included or excluded in an ad hoc manner

  • To reconsider the applicability of Article 112 and other provisions of the Constitution

The Government passed this law to appease allies who faced certain disqualification because they held an office of profit. The Supreme Court made it clear when it upheld Jaya Bachan’s disqualification by the Election Commission that profiting, profit motive, or benefits from a post has nothing to do with the law. Instead, the question is whether the post itself is to promote profit.

The call to reconsider the bill was not entirely unexpected. If not the President, it might have been challenged in court. The inconsistencies are glaring where the Wakf Board position is included in one state and not in another-- which was incidentally highlighted by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley. Another was that this bill sought to mindlessly grandfather these positions stating that these positions are exempted from 1959 when some positions such as the National Council was created only in 2004.

Many have argued that the bill was discriminatory as it favored individuals close to the Government and not classes of office that could be exempted. Even, Congressmen were unhappy with the draft and the mode of execution by the Law Ministry.

The law considers only Government positions and does not encompass private positions. Conflict of Interest from active participation in private sector ventures are not considered an office of profit.