The Kerala High Court on Thursday sought the view of the state on a petition challenging the inclusion of the Government Chief Whip in the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualifications) Amendment Act which prevents the Government Chief Whip from being disqualified under the office of profit clause.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A M Shaffique adjourned the hearing by four weeks on a petition filed by former MP Sebastian Paul.
The petitioner also sought to set aside the Governor’s order rejecting his plea to disqualify George.
The petition sought to declare that the office of the Chief Whip with cabinet rank was an office of profit not exempted by the Amended Act.
“The members of Parliament and state legislature were not holding office of profits as they were neither appointed by the government nor are they removable by the government although they drew their salaries and allowances from the government.
Ministers are exempted from disqualification by the Constitution itself.
In fact, the Speaker and the Opposition Leader were integral part of the legislature.
While the Speaker was elected by the Assembly and could be removed only by a vote of the Assembly, Opposition Leader was not holding any office under the government,” petition pointed out.
According to Sebastian Paul, Chief Whip was not an office recognised or exempted by the Constitution.
“The Chief Whip was enjoying the salary, allowance and benefits of a minister without becoming a minister. If it was to be exempted, the legislature should do it accordance with the dictate of the Constitution.
“The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act declared that certain offices including Chief Whip in Parliament shall not be disqualified.
In fact, what was exempted was not the Government Chief Whip but only the Chief Whip. The Election Commission had failed to consider these matters while giving its view to the Governor,” he said.