New Delhi: PA Sangma, the former Lok Sabha Speaker and NDA's candidate in the recently-concluded Presidential Election, on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court challenging Pranab Mukherjee’s election as President.
Sangma has pleaded that Mukherjee's election as the country’s 13th President be annulled as he was holding an office of profit when he filed his nomination papers.
He also alleged that a copy of resignation letter submitted by Mukherjee carried a forged signature.
Sangma said at the time of his election as President, Mukherjee was the leader of Congress Party in the Lok Sabha which was an office of profit as the person holding this office is entitled to various facilities, which are in addition to the facilities available to him as an MP.
"That the very act of bringing the said two offices -- Chairman of ISI Council and leader of legislative party if Congress in Lok Sabha -- under the purview of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 is in itself sufficient declaration that both these are offices of profit.
"Even otherwise, the facilities to which the holder of these two offices are entitled, the nature of functions of these two offices as well as the incompatibility and conflict of interest of these two offices with the office of President of India makes it absolutely clear that they are, in fact, offices of profit," the petition said.
Mukherjee's election as President is "illegal, void ab-initio and liable to be set aside," Sangma's petition settled by BJP leaders and senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and Satpal Jain, said.
Jain, a former BJP MP, was earlier Sangma's election representative but is now assisting him in his professional capacity.
The BJP, which backed Sangma as a Presidential candidate, has distanced itself from the election petition process after Mukherjee got elected.
The party had dissociated itself from any move by Sangma to challenge Mukherjee's election, saying such a decision would be in his personal capacity.
When asked about BJP's role in filing of election petition against Mukherjee, party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy had said, "We would like to make it clear if Sangma takes such a step, then it will be his personal choice. As far as BJP and NDA is concerned, post-election we have welcomed the election of the President of India and we would not like to link this to the party or to the NDA."
Sangma's petition is not the first of its kind as in the
past on several occasions Presidential elections have been challenged in the apex court and the one in which a detail hearing took place was the plea against election of VV Giri as President in 1969.
Backed by Indira Gandhi, Giri had won the Presidential election as an independent candidate by defeating the official Congress nominee Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy by a conscience vote.
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to set aside Giri's election on the ground of use of corrupt practices to influence voters which was dismissed on September 14, 1970 after a marathon hearing in which a large number of politicians were called to depose as witness by a five-judge Constitution Bench.
Giri was given the option to give his statement to the court-appointed commissioner but he preferred to depose in person before the apex court.
Mukherjee was declared elected on July 22 and took oath of office of President on July 25.
In an election that caused divisions in the opposition NDA and the Left, Mukherjee secured a vote value of 7,13,763, garnering 69.3 per cent of the total 10,29,750 valid votes polled.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 14:21