M A I N   N E W S

SC dismisses PIL on Sonia’s citizenship
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 24
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition challenging Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s entitlement to become the Prime Minister of the country because of her foreign origin and grant of citizenship to her allegedly in violation of law.

A vacation Bench of Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice B N Agrawal dismissed the petition without giving a chance to the Lucknow-based lawyer Ashok Pandey, who had filed the petition, to argue on the point raised by him.

The moment Pandey rose up to argue on his public interest litigation (PIL), filed soon after the election of Sonia Gandhi as Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) leader, the Bench said “it is dismissed”.

But Pandey persisted for a hearing even after the Bench had called for the next case to be taken up. Pandey demanded that he should be given a proper hearing.

“The petition has become infructous,” the court said taking into account Sonia Gandhi’s decision to renounce her claim for prime ministership after being elected the CPP leader.

Unrelenting Pandey still persisted for hearing, saying he should be given a chance to argue.

At this, Ms Justice Pal said “this issue (Sonia’s foreign origin and citizenship) has already been settled (by the Apex Court) in the 2001 order.” The court was referring to an election petition by Hari Shankar Jain in which he had challenged Sonia Gandhi’s 1999 election to Lok Sabha from Amethi.

When Pandey insisted that in that petition the issue of her citizenship had not been decided by the Apex Court, contending that it had been left “wide open” and, therefore needed to be referred to a Constitution Bench, the court imposed a cost of Rs 30,000 on him for continuing with the argument when order for dismissal had been pronounced.

Pandey stopped from pleading to give him a chance to argue the matter only after the Bench warned “we will have you arrested if you go on like this.”

However, the cost was later waived off by the court when Pandey at the end of its day’s proceedings pleaded for it.

Pandey in his PIL had alleged that when Sonia Gandhi was registered as citizen of the country in 1983 after 16 years of her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi, it was done without any such power by the government as the provision relating to registration as citizen of a foreign spouse was incorporated in the Citizenship Act only in 1986, which came into force only from July 1987.

The PIL said the provision of Section 5(1)(c) which says that the person of foreign origin who are, or have been married to citizen of India and are ordinarily residents in India and have been so resident for 5 years immediately before making an application for registration, did not exist in 1983.

“The Union Home Ministry, had wrongly registered an Italian Citizen namely Antonia Maino as citizen of India with a changed name of Sonia Gandhi, which is liable to be quashed after summoning (records) from the ministry, because the original name of a person cannot be changed after the change of nationality,” the PIL contended.

Pandey also had claimed that Sonia Gandhi’s name was included in the voters’ list in 1979 even when she was not a citizen but it had to be subsequently struck down due to this reason.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |