The Mizoram government has sought the opinion of the Election Commission of India (ECI) on a petition seeking minister Robert Romawia Royte's disqualification for allegedly holding an "office of profit", stated reports.
According to the official, the governor sent a letter to the ECI last week requesting that the poll panel look into the petition filed by the main opposition Zoram People's Movemebt (ZPM) to disqualify Royte for allegedly violating the Representation of People (RP) Act by holding a profit-making office.
He added that the Raj Bhavan also sought the opinion of the ECI on the subject for the governor's further consideration.
Royte is a minister of state and holds various portfolios, including sports and tourism, in the current Mizo National Front (MNF) government led by chief minister Zoramthanga. On February 28, the ZPM had filed a petition urging the governor to disqualify Royte for allegedly holding an "office of profit" by owning a consultancy firm that worked on several contracts under the state government in violation of the RP Act. Royte is currently a minister of state.
He has also recently been given the portfolio of District Council and Minority Affairs, which was previously held by cabinet minister R. Lalzirliana.
In its petition, the ZPM claimed that Royte, who is the sole owner of North East Consultancy Services (NECS), continued to run his business and pay Goods and Service Tax on a regular basis even after he was elected to the state legislature in 2018.
According to the petition, the company violated section 9A of the RP Act by executing a "deed of agreement" with the state District Council and Minority Affairs department in June 2022 for the execution of two-year works under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) scheme.
It had stated that the agreement was executed through "single source selection" in violation of the Mizoram Public Procurement Rules, 2020 and the Mizoram Transparency in Public Procurement Act, 2008.
It was alleged that the NECS has been executing various projects since it was approved as an employed firm by the state government in September 2022, and that Royte has concealed in his affidavit about the ongoing projects undertaken by his firm at the time of filing nomination in 2018.
According to the petition, "seeking and receiving monetary benefits by the minister through his firm is not only 'conflict of interest,' but also misuse of power and a breach of people's trust."
According to the petition, Royte's son, Mr. Vanlalfelpuia Royte, was registered as the proprietor of the business under GST in May 2019. However, the petition also stated that Royte enjoys monetary benefits from the businesses because Vanlalfelpuia is completely dependent on and lives under the same roof as his parents.
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