Pranab says the grounds raised by opponent are misconceived

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will hear on Thursday P.A. Sangma’s petition, challenging the election of Pranab Mukherjee as President.

In his reply filed through P.H. Parekh and Co., the President clarified certain issues raised in the petition relating to his resignation as an honorary member of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, and claims of privileges as leader of the Lok Sabha.

Mr. Mukherjee said: “The grounds for challenging my election are ex facie misconceived.” He said he secured 7, 13,763 votes (over 70 per cent of the votes cast) and was duly elected President. Mr. Sangma received votes of a value of only 3, 15,987 out of the total value of 10.5 lakhs but he sought a declaration that he be declared elected.

On the contention that he was holding the post of ISI Chairman, an office of profit under the government of India and thus he was disqualified, Mr. Mukherjee said he resigned on June 20. He said he sent the letter through Swapan Ghosh, who carried it to Kolkata the same day. However, on June 21 the ISI Director was not in town and as such it was delivered to him only the next evening. The Director responded to the letter on June 23.

Mr. Mukherjee said: “The office of Chairman of ISI is an honorary office without any emoluments, and resignation from such an office is a unilateral act, and such resignation did not require to be accepted. The delivery of the resignation letter itself was sufficient and the resignation came into effect immediately.”

On the other ground raised by Mr. Sangma, Mr. Mukherjee said the assumption that he, as leader of the Lok Sabha, was entitled to perquisites beyond those available to him as Minister was factually incorrect. “This office [leader of the Lok Sabha] is coextensive and thus co-terminus with the term as a Minister” Mr. Mukherjee said, adding he did not accept or receive any perquisite in that capacity.

Mr. Mukherjee said that by a letter dated June 20, he had resigned not only from the office of Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha but also from the Congress Working Committee as well as from primary membership of the party. In fact, the CWC held a function to bid him farewell on June 25 and it was extensively covered by the media” Mr. Mukherjee said and sought dismissal of the petition.