Office of Profit


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Prelims:   Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains:  Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.


What is the concept of ‘Office of Profit’?

The concept of "Office of Profit" in India relates to positions held by Members of Parliament or Members of the Legislative Assembly (MPs or MLAs) that may provide financial gain or benefit. 

  • The origin of the term ‘Office of Profit’ can be found in the English Act of Settlement, 1701. Hence, the concept of ‘office of profit’  is borrowed from the UK.
  • The constitution and Representation of People’s Act,1951 does not have a clear definition of what constitutes an office of profit, but the definition has been developed through various court judgments. 
  • The test for determining whether a person holds an office of profit is based on the test of appointment, as per the Supreme Court's ruling in Pradyut Bordoloi vs Swapan Roy (2001). This test involves evaluating multiple factors, including: 
  • whether the government is responsible for appointing the individual, 
  • if the government has the authority to terminate the appointment, 
  • if the government sets the remuneration for the position, 
  • What is the source of the remuneration, and the extent of power or authority associated with the position.


What are the constitutional and legal provisions pertaining to the Office of Profit?




Article 102(1)

A person will be ineligible to be elected as a member of the Parliament if they hold any office of profit under the government of India or any state, except for those offices that have been specifically declared by law to not cause disqualification.

Article 103

  • If any question arises as to whether a member of either House of Parliament has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in  Article 102, the question shall be referred for the decision of the President and his decision shall be final
  • Before giving any decision on any such question, the President shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion

Article 191(1)

A person will be disqualified if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State specified in the First Schedule, other than an office declared by the Legislature of the State by law not to disqualify its holder.

The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959

The Act has been amended multiple times to expand the list of offices that are exempt from disqualification. The certain offices exempted are:

Representation of People Act, 1951(RPA,1951)

States that a person shall be disqualified from holding office if they have a contract with the government for the supply of goods or the execution of any works undertaken by that government, as stated in Clause 9A, in relation to their trade or business.

State Laws

Certain state governments have passed laws that exclude certain offices from being considered an "office of profit" under the state's jurisdiction

Table: Constitutional and legal provisions related to office of profit


Why is "office of profit" a ground for disqualification?

The underlying concept behind “office of profit” as a ground for disqualification is the principle of separation of power between the functionaries of a state like the legislative, judiciary, and executive. 

  • Upholding the constitutional responsibility: The essence of disqualification behind holding an office of profit is that legislators who hold such positions may be influenced by the government and may not fulfill their constitutional responsibilities of holding the executive accountable to the legislature. 
  • Separation of power: The office of profit law aims to enforce a basic feature of the Constitution, which is the Separation of Power between legislature and executive. 
  • Ensuring checks and balances: Disqualification based on the office of profit ensures the isolation, immunity, or independence of one branch of government from the actions or interference of another and ensures checks and balances.
  • Preventing conflict between duties and interests: The object of enacting Articles 102 and 191 is that there should not be any conflict between the duties and interests of an elected member and to see that such an elected member can carry freely and fearlessly his duties without being subjected to any kind of governmental pressure.


What are some examples of issues pertaining to the office of profit in India?

  • In 2006, the Congress party president was accused of holding an office of profit by being an MP as well as holding the office of the chairperson of the National Advisory Council, the latter being a post with the rank of a Cabinet minister. Later on, the Congress president resigned from the Lok Sabha membership.
  • In 2006, SP Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan was accused to hold the post of the Chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Corporation. Later, She was disqualified by Election Commission for holding the office of profit.
  • In 2018, 20 MLAs of the Delhi Legislative Assembly were appointed parliamentary secretaries and were later disqualified by the President, based on the recommendation of the Election Commission, for holding an "office of profit".
  • In 2022, Jharkhand Chief Minister was accused of holding an office-of-profit by granting himself a stone chips mining lease. The notice has been issued by the Election Commission for holding office of profit.


What are the various supreme court judgments pertaining to the office of profit?

Many times in the past, the Supreme Court has interpreted the law related to the office of profit.

  • CVK Rao v. Dentu Bhaskara Rao(1964): Supreme Court constitution panel ruled that a mining lease does not amount to a contract of supply of goods.
  • Kartar Singh Bhadana vs. Hari Singh Nalwa & others(2001): A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court made it clear that a mining lease does not amount to the execution of a work undertaken by the government.
  • Jaya Bacchan v. Union of India(2006): The court held that an office of profit is an office that is capable of yielding a profit or pecuniary gain. The actual ‘receipt’ of profit is not necessary, the ‘potential’ to yield the profit is sufficient.
  • UC Raman case(2014): Constitution allows a legislature to pass a law to grant exemption to any office of profit holder.
  • The Calcutta High Court judgment in 2015 stated that the appointment of legislators as parliamentary secretaries is an attempt to bypass the constitutional limit on the number of ministers, as it confers the rank of a junior minister on the legislator. 
  • Similarly, in 2009, the Bombay High Court also held that appointing parliamentary secretaries of the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister is in violation of Article 164 of the Constitution, which limits the number of ministers in an assembly.


What can be the way forward in dealing with the issues surrounding the Office of Profit in India?

The following are the major recommendations that can prevent the misuse of the provisions of the office of profit in India:

  • 2nd ARC recommendation: The constitution or the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 should be amended to define the office of profit. The 2nd ARC has also recommended that all offices with executive decision-making powers and financial control be treated as an office of profit.
  • The Parliament’s Joint Committee on Office of Profit has suggested additional parameters like remuneration, powers, and patronage to determine the Office of Profit.
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution suggested that the Election Commission should be mandated to determine the offices of profit. 





Previous Year Questions(PYQs)



Q) Consider the following statements: (2019)

  1. The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 exempts several posts from disqualification on the grounds of ‘Office of Profit’.
  2. The above-mentioned Act was amended five times.
  3. The term ‘Office of Profit’ is well-defined in the Constitution of India.

            Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

            (a) 1 and 2 only

            (b) 3 only

            (c) 2 and 3 only

            (d) 1, 2 and 3


Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)


Q) Has the Indian constitution defined the office of profit?

No, the Office of profit has not been defined by the Indian constitution. Article 102 and 191 explains that a person will be ineligible to be elected as an MP and MLA if they hold any office of profit under the government of India or any state, respectively.


Q) How many times has the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 been amended to give exemption to many offices from disqualification?

The Act has been amended 5 times, since its formulation, in the years 1960, 1992, 1993, 2006, and 2013.