Pranab Mukherjee urges SC to dismiss election petition

Pranab Mukherjee urges SC to dismiss election petition

Says allegations made against him by Sangma are frivolous

President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to dismiss an election petition filed by former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma by describing the allegations against him as “untenable, misconceived and frivolous”.

In a short counter, he claimed that on June 20, he had resigned not only from the post of Chairman, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, but also from the membership of the Indian National Congress party, including the Working Committee and the office of Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, besides several other posts.

Mukherjee called allegation of forgery in view of difference in his signature on resignation letter addressed to President of ISI as “patently absurd”.

He pleaded that Sangma’s petition be rejected at the preliminary stage. Sangma, who lost the Presidential election, said that the election of Mukherjee was illegal since the President was holding offices of profit as chairman of ISI and leader of the Congress legislature party in the Lok Sabha at the time of filing his nomination papers.

The election petition filed under Sections 17 and 18 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act, 1952, is likely to come up for hearing before a bench of the apex court of not less than five judges.

In his response, Mukherjee said: “The deponent being a leader of the House was not entitled to any perquisites beyond those available to him as a minister of the Union Cabinet, and that factually also the deponent had ceased to be a leader of the Congress party in the House. These are also matters in public domain and verifiable from official records or other material in public domain.”

“As far as the ruling party is concerned, the Leader of the House is the prime minister. However, where the prime minister is not a member of the Lok Sabha, then another senior member from the ruling party who is a minister in the Union Cabinet can be appointed Leader of the House. This being so, there is no question of any further perquisites being made available to the leader of the House, since the second office is coextensive and thus coterminous with the term minister,” he added.  

In 1991, as then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was not a member of the Lok Sabha, Arjun Singh, being the senior most Cabinet minister, was appointed leader of the House.
The position of the leader of a party in the LS cannot be a disqualification under Article 58 of the Constitution, he said.

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