Legal Correspondent

Says most frivolous petition and an abuse of the process of a PIL

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed in public interest, challenging the election of Congress president Sonia Gandhi from the Rae Bareli constituency in May.

Describing it as the most frivolous petition and an abuse of the process of a PIL, a three-Judge Bench, comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justices C.K. Thakker and R.V. Raveendran, dismissed the petition filed by advocate Santosh Kumar Srivastava and others with Rs. 10,000 costs.

The petitioners referred to an affidavit filed by Ms. Gandhi at the time of filing of nomination stating that she owned ancestral property worth Rs. 13 lakhs in Italy and said this fact amounted to having allegiance to a foreign country. Under the scheme of the Constitution, she should not have been allowed to contest the Lok Sabha polls. Also, under Article 102 (1) (D) of the Constitution (disqualification for membership), any person owing allegiance or adherence to foreign country was liable to be disqualified from the membership of Parliament.

The petitioners also contended that Ms. Gandhi had not taken the citizenship of India and continued to be a citizen of Italy. Under the Italian Constitution, a person born there could not become the citizen of another country and, hence, she could not become an Indian citizen. Further, persons who were not citizens of India could neither become voters nor could they contest elections.

Therefore, not only was the election of Ms. Gandhi liable to be set aside, but she should also be debarred from contesting elections in future.

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