SC TO EXAMINE IF FOREIGN-BORN RESIDENTS CAN HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE

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SONIA Gandhi’s foreign origin was again raked up in the Supreme Court which decided to examine the issue of persons of foreign origin holding public offices in the country. The apex court said that it was an important Constitutional issue.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran issued a notice to centre but made it clear that it will examine the issue in context of the persons who are citizens by registration.

“You have raised a constitutional issue. We will confine the question to whether a person who is not born in the country can be appointed to a public office,” the bench said after the Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (RMM) raised the issue of Congress president Sonia Gandhi being invited to form the government at the centre by the then president in 1999 after NDA lost the no-confidence motion.

The petition filed by RMM, a voluntary organisation, says, “In none of the free countries of the world is found a foreign-born person either heading the government or heading political or public offices or heading any political party, it is unfortunate that a foreign-born lady of Italian origin is heading a political party in India and even when she was not an elected MP in April 1999, the President of India invited her to form the government.”

Senior counsel P N Lekhi appearing for the petitioner said that in none of the nearly 202 member states of UN is a person of foreign origin entitled to hold any political office. India is the only exception, said Lekhi.

Raising an important question of law the petition asked “whether the reading of the constitution and relevant laws relating to elections expressly prohibit a naturalised or registered Indian citizen of foreign origin to seek/occupy an elective or public office particularly in view of 10th Schedule of the constitution read with section 29A of the RPA, 1951 which has brought political parties within the ambit of constitution and meaning of citizen with reference to the definition of a political party.”

The petitioner has moved the apex court challenging the order of the Delhi high court. In its order, the high court had dismissed the plea saying that one has to follow the liberal and human concept of ancient Indian philosophy according to the doctrine of Vasudhev Kutumbhkam.

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