Court notice to BJD MP over citizenship issue

A controversy has sparked off over the Indian citizenship of Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP from Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency with the Orissa High Court issuing notices in this regard to the Election Commission (EC) and others.

Pratyusha was elected to the Lok Sabha in a by-poll two months back after the demise of her husband Hemendra Singh who had won the same seat as a BJD nominee during the last general elections.

Besides the EC and the sitting MP herself, others who have also been served notices by the single judge bench of the court include Union Home Ministry, the Collector of Kandhamal as well as the Collector of Nayagarh, Pratyusha’s home district.

The court issued the notices while responding to a petition filed by Subhash Mohapatra, an activist, challenging the status of the sitting MP’s citizenship.

Pratyusha who belongs to one of the royal families of Nepal, had married Hemendra who was from the erstwhile royal family of Nayagarh, long back.

In his petition, the activist alleged that Pratyusha continues to be a citizen of Nepal and therefore cannot be an MP under the provisions of Indian Constitution and Representation of People’s Act. She has not been able to obtain an Indian citizenship certificate.

The BJD, however, has come out in her defence and said the allegation on her citizenship was baseless and invalid. “Though the matter is in court now, I can say that the allegation has no truth in it. We have sufficient documents to prove the allegation wrong,” said senior MLA and spokesperson of the ruling regional outfit Samir Dash.

BJP spokesman Sajjan Sharma said his party had raised the issue during the by-poll. “The state unit of the BJP was the first to raise the matter in public during the October by-election,” he said.

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