Sangma challenges Pranab’s election in apex court


New Delhi : Purno Sangma Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging Pranab Mukherjee’s election as the president of India, and claimed Mukherjee held an office of profit when he filed his nomination papers.

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Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker, said Mukherjee was chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Kolkata when he plunged into the presidential race.

He added that during the election process, Mukherjee was also leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha.

In his petition, Sangma has contended that Mukherjee’s signatures on his resignation letter to the Indian Statistical Institute “are neither of the respondent (Mukherjee) nor have been put by the respondent (Mukherjee). They are fabricated.”

Mukherjee’s signatures on his resignation letter “do not match with his signatures appended on the reply dated 3.7.2012 filed before the returning officers,” the petition stated.

The petition said that Mukherjee was “not qualified for contesting and for being the president of India” and his “nomination papers have been wrongly accepted by the returning officer”.

Sangma, in his petition, has contended that while accepting Mukherjee’s nomination papers, the returning officer had not checked the “genuineness of the signatures on the purported resignation letter (as chairman of ISI, Kolkata), the genuineness of the resignation letter itself”.

The petition said the returning officer also did not decide whether the president of the ISI was competent to accept the chairman’s resignation.

Sangma has said that all these questions were substantial and the returning officer was statutorily mandated to decide all these objections at the time of scrutiny and he “failed to exercise the powers vested in him by the law”.

Sangma wants the presidential poll result to be declared null and void and himself to be declared the president of India.

The petition referred to Article 58 of the Indian Constitution, which makes a person ineligible for contesting the election to the post of president of India if such a person is holding an office of profit.

The petition said the ISI was governed by the provision of the Indian Statistical Institute Act, 1959, and the post of the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party are governed by the Leader and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Group in Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998, and the rules thereunder.

Both these offices have been declared as office of profit by the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, the petition added.

Till July 2, 2012, the Lok Sabha website as well as the ISI website showed Mukherjee as the chairman of the ISI.