What is an office of profit?
It is a position in the government which cannot be held by an MLA or an MP. The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits. The origin of this term can be found in the English Act of Settlement, 1701. Under this law, “no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons.” This was instituted so that there wouldn’t be any undue influence from the royal household in administrative affairs.
What do parliamentary secretaries do?
In the Westminster system, a parliamentary secretary is a Member of Parliament who assists a Minister in their duties. Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers usually appoint parliamentary secretaries from their own parties.
Why should an MLA or an MP not hold an office of profit?
According to Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, an MP or MLA is barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit. “A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament, (a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder,” says the law.
Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is grounds for disqualification.
The word ‘office’ has not been defined in the Constitution or the Representation of the People Act of 1951. But different courts have interpreted it to mean a position with certain duties that are more or less of public character. However, a legislator cannot be disqualified from either the Parliament or state Assembly for holding any office. It can be done for holding: a) An office; b) An office of profit; c) An office under the union or state government; d) An office exempt by law from purview of disqualificatory provisions. All four conditions have to be satisfied before an MP and MLA can be disqualified.