‘Bengal minister’s appointment violative of Constitution’

April 18th, 2012 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolkata, April 18 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday wrote to the chief election commissioner, requesting him to disqualify West Bengal Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee’s legislatorship after he was appointed as Haldia Petrochemicals Limited (HPL) chairman by the state government.

“We have written to Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on the issue of ‘Office of Profit’. The state government, through amendment, granted exemptions to ministers and MLAs to become chairpersons and directors of companies. The move is a pre-emptive measure against legal challenges to its industry minister Partha Chatterjee’s new role as chairman in an ‘office of profit’ company such as Haldia Petrochemicals,” said Tapan Sikdar, senior BJP leader.

Last month, Chatterjee was inducted as chairman of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) at a board meeting where it was decided to convert the Rs.128-crore debt of the cash-starved company into equity to improve its financial health.

Sikdar, a former union minister during the NDA regime, questioned whether a state assembly has the right to amend such exemptions under Article 102 (1) (A) of the Indian Constitution - which bars an MP or an MLA from holding any ‘office of profit’ under the government of India or in any state other than an office declared by Parliament by law as not disqualifying its holder.

Sikdar apprehended that if the amendment was executed by the governor of West Bengal, then the political interference in the day-to-day functioning of the company will have an adverse impact on the company in the long run.

“What the state government has done in the name of amendment is totally illegal and unconstitutional. We will request the governor not to sign the amendment because ministers taking over the post of chairman or director will ruin the independence of the company,” he said.

“We have written to the CEC to cancel Chatterjee’s elected membership of the state assembly immediately,” said Sikdar.

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