New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Dec 5 pronounce its order on P.A. Sangma’s petition challenging Pranab Mukherjee’s election as the president of India.
The apex court constitutional bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice S.S. Nijjar, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Ranjan Gogoi Wednesday said that it would pronounce its order on Sangama’s plea Dec 5, after it reserved its order upon the conclusion of the arguments in the preliminary hearing that lasted for two days.
Sangma has contended that while filing his nomination papers President Mukharjee held an office of profit as the chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute and remained leader of the house in the Lok Sabha.
Sangma, who lost the election to Mukherjee, sought a full-fledged trial of the case under the provisions of Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and the Supreme Court Rules involving the recording of evidence and cross-examining the witnesses.
Appearing for the president, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that certain parameters needed to be applied to determine whether an office is an office of profit or not.
“A position not being an office of profit should not be incompatible with the discharge of duties as an elected representative,” the attorney general said, adding that it should not affect the independence of a person as a representative of the people.
Vahanvati told the court that occupying such an office should not weaken the elected representative’s loyalty to the constituency represented by him and no pecuniary gain should flow from it.
The attorney general said that Article 102 of the constitution that provides for the disqualifications for membership was a defining act and not an exemption to the provision.
The Article 102 says: “(1) A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either house of parliament
(a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the government of any state, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder”.
Responding to the submission made by senior counsel Harish Salve and Attorney General Vahanvati, senior counsel Ram Jethamalani told the court that all that people know about the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) is its memorandum of association, its rules and declarations but no one knows that the office of its chairman is not an office of profit.
Senior counsel Jethmalani said that this question could only be decided if petitioner Sangma was allowed to lead the evidence and call the witnesses. It calls for the accounts of the ISI, payments made and receipts issued by the Institute.
Jethmalani told the court that office of profit is not limited to the question whether it comes with remunerations or not but also with “what is the nature of duties he performs and how it interferes with actual duties” of the person occupying it.