Explained: Political Crisis in Jharkhand

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On Sunday, Some of the UPA leaders in Jharkhand have asked Governor Ramesh Bais to dispel speculations about the disqualification of Hemant Soren as a state MLA. Hemant Soren, who is also the Chief Minister, has been accused of holding an office of profit. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has suggested that Soren’s appointment as an adviser to the state education board may lead to his disqualification as MLA.

After a closed-door meeting, UPA leaders of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) held a joint media conference. JMM MLA Champai Soren said, “If the Election Commission issues a report, the governor should make it public and announce his decision.” He further said that the delay is hampering the economic efforts of the state. In addition, leaders feared that the uncertainty would encourage MLA poaching.

On Thursday of last week, an ECI report reportedly advised that CM Soren be disqualified as an MLA. The decision has not yet been made public, although it was apparently conveyed to Governor Bais on August 25. The Election Commission’s report comes in response to a petition filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeking disqualification of CM Soren from the assembly in the alleged case of office of profit. Meanwhile, the incumbent CM has said that he has not received any information from the Election Commission or the Governor on the subject.

The BJP claimed that CM Soren, who also holds the state’s mining department, granted himself a mining lease in 2021.

Soren-led JMM has 30 MLAs in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, while its allies Congress and RJD have 18 MLAs and one MLA respectively. His main rival, on the other hand, is the BJP, which has 26 MLAs. Banna Gupta said that the ruling party will fight, claiming the support of more than 50 MLAs. “We will fight and never give up.” (d) The Governor of the State should make the decision (regarding the disqualification of CM Soren as MLA) public at the earliest; Only then can we move forward. “We have over 50,” he said.

BJP leader Arjun Munda is likely to be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand after the ECI disqualifies Mr. Hemant Soren from his post due to the ongoing political crisis in the state.

Position of the constitution of India ?

The official position of the Indian Constitution on the question of ‘office of profit’ is that it does not explicitly state which offices are infringing and which are not. This has left a gray area in which the courts have the liberty to consider or deny any office as ‘office of profit.’

Credit – https://indiankanoon.org

The founding fathers of the constitution have placed the office of profit as a ground of disqualification to prevent the conflict of interest of those who have been given the task of taking the nation forward. According to this view, no member of parliament or legislature shall indulge in any office of profit which may affect his decisions during his service as the representative of the people. There should be no contradiction between an elected member’s duties and interests.

Other Leaders who had been disqualified on similar charges ?

In a prior instance, the Election Commission suggested that some members of the Aam Admi Party be disqualified in 2018 for holding office for profit, specifically that of parliamentary secretaries. However, the MLAs filed an appeal against the Election Commission’s judgement, and the case became moot because the appeal and disqualifications were not settled before the 2020 Delhi state elections. Even congress leader was once disqualified for virtue of holding office as the Chairman of the National Advisory Council (NAC). However, Sonia Gandhi resigned from her post as well as her Lok Sabha seat.

Offices exempted from being counted as office of profit ?

The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 exempts several posts from disqualification, such as: Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Parliamentary Under Secretaries, Deputy Chief Whips in Parliament, Vice-Chancellors of Universities, Officers in the National Cadet Corps, and Territorial Army. Chairman and members of advisory committees constituted by the Government when they are not entitled to any fee or remuneration other than compensatory, etc.

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