November 9, 2021 1:01:53 am
The Election Commission has noted that the 22 Biju Janata Dal MLAs who were appointed as chairpersons of various district planning committees and special development councils do not attract disqualification for holding an office of profit.
The poll panel in an opinion issued to the Odisha governor last month said offices held by 20 were exempted from disqualification under statutory law. Two MLAs had resigned from their office before becoming members of the Odisha Legislative Assembly. A copy of the same was published by the EC on Monday.
“In the view of above, this Commission hereby opines that none of the 22 respondent MLAs from Odisha Legislative Assembly have incurred disqualification under the provisions of Article 191(1)(a) of the Constitution of India,” it said.
Based on the October 13 opinion of the poll panel, Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal issued an order on October 22, saying in view of the constitutional and legal provisions and the opinion of the Election Commission, “I hereby order that the applications filed before me as above under Article 191 of the Constitution of India is not maintainable in as much as is not a ground for disqualification of the elected representatives under Article 191 of the Constitution of India.”
“The Petitioner vide petition dated 21.05.2021 had prayed that 13 MLAs of Odisha Legislative Assembly be disqualified on grounds of holding “office of profit” as they were holding the positions of Chairperson of various District Planning Committees. It is pertinent to note that during this date, the election process for Odisha Legislative Assembly Elections, 2019 was underway, the results of which were declared on 23.05.2021. Thereafter, the Petitioner filed another petition dated 28.05.2019 before the Hon’ble Governor with the prayer to treat his earlier petition as afresh on the ground that 12 of the 13 Respondent MLAs had been re-elected. Respondent No. I to 12 as mentioned in the table above were re-elected as MLAs during the said elections while one, Sh. Lalbihari Himrika, was not re-elected,” it noted.
It said that the legislation that deals with removal of disqualification for the Members of Odisha Legislative Assembly is the “Odisha Offices of Profit (Removal of Disqualifications) Act, 1961”.
“The said Act was amended vide “Odisha Offices of Profit (Removal of Disqualifications) Amendment Act, 2016″. Through the said Amendment Act, the holder of offices of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson or Member, by whatever name called, in the District Planning Committee, the Western Odisha Development Council and State Planning Board were provided exemption from disqualification on grounds of offices of profit under the Government. virtue of this amendment, offices held by all the Respondents, except Respondent No. 3 & 4, fell in the exempted category,” it noted.
“The resignation tendered by Respondent No. 3. Sh. Bhupinder Singh, from the post of Chairman, Odisha State Housing Board was accepted by the State Government vide Notification No. 13-58-21-23/2017-6356/HUD dated 23.03.2019. Similarly, the resignation tendered by Respondent No. 4. Sh. Ananta Narayan Jena, from the post of Chairman, Bhubaneswar Development Authority was accepted by the State Government vide Notification No. S.R.O.No.,133/2019 with effect from 02.04.2019.Moreover, Sh. Bhupinder Singh filed his nomination paper for 81- Narla Assembly Constituency on 25.03.2019 while Sh. Ananta Narayan Jena filed his nomination paper from 112- Bhubaneshwar Central Assembly Constituency on 04.04.2019. Therefore, both the aforesaid Respondent MLAs had resigned from their posts before filing the nomination paper for contesting the Odisha Legislative Assembly Elections, 2019. It is also pertinent to note that the said resignations were accepted before the 16″ Legislative Assembly of Odisha was constituted i.e. on 25.05.2019. Furthermore, the Government of Odisha in the letter dated 16.09.2021 specified that the aforesaid two Respondents were not holding the said offices after the new Legislative Assembly was constituted,” it added.
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