By Our Special Correspondent
New Delhi, Aug. 5: The Election Commission refrained from making comments on the foreign origin of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the Supreme Court, which has decided to examine whether a person not born in the country is entitled to hold public office under the Constitution. The top court sought a specific reply whether a person, who had acquired citizenship by registration, can be appointed to public office.
The Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (RMM) raised the issue of Congress president Sonia Gandhi being invited to form government at the Centre by the President in 1999, after the Vajpayee government lost the no-confidence motion. Senior advocate P.N. Lekhi, appearing for the RMM, said that Mrs Gandhi, a citizen by registration, was invited to form government when she was not even an MP. The RMM contended that a political party cannot be headed by a person, who has assumed citizenship by registration.
The RMM challenged the Delhi high court verdict, which dismissed the petition on the ground that it lacked merit. Mr Lekhi, appearing for the RMM, said that when the matter had come before the court, it was asked why the name of an individual was raised.
The top court had on April 16 directed the Election Commission to file its reply on the question, "whether the person, who is not born in the country, can be appointed or elected to a public office under the Constitution." The Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission and made it clear that it would examine the issue in the context of persons, who are citizens by registration.
In its affidavit, the EC said, "It is respectfully submitted that EC has no comment to make on this constitutional question, as it does not pertain to the conduct of elections or disqualifications of a candidate. None of the provisions nor any mandate of any other law.