Friday, June 21, 2024
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Purno loses another battle

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From Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma’s petition challenging the election of senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee as President.

Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, who led the 3 to 2 majority ruling, held that Purno’s petition does not deserve full and regular hearing while adding that Mukherjee was not holding any “office of profit” warranting his disqualification from contesting the Presidential election.

“The election petition is not maintainable for regular hearing. It is dismissed,” the Chief Justice pronounced the verdict on behalf of him and justices P Sathasivam and S S Nijjar.

But in a significant move separate dissenting orders were pronounced by justices J Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi who disagreed with the opinions expressed by the Chief Justice that Sangma’s plea did not deserve full hearing.

While Justice Chelameswar, who read out the operative portion of his order dissenting with the order read out by the CJI, said he will give the reasons for dissenting with majority order shortly next week, Justice Gogoi said since it was alleged that Mukherjee was holding the office of profit as the Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), he is of the view that the election petition filed by Sangma deserved regular hearing.

Renowned advocate Ram Jethmalani represented Purno in the apex court.

Holding that office of the Chairman, Indian Statistical Institute was not an office of profit, the majority judgment said, “We are also not inclined to accept Jethmalani’s submissions that once a person is appointed as Chairman of the ISI, Calcutta, the Rules and Bye-laws of the Society did not permit him to resign from the post and that he had to continue in the post against his wishes.”

“There is no contractual obligation that once appointed, the Chairman would have to continue in such post for the full term of office,” the majority view said.

“In any event, since the holder of the post of Chairman of the ISI has been excluded from disqualification for contesting the Presidential election, by the 2006 amendment to Section 3 of the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, the submissions of Jethmalani in this regard is of little or no substance”, the majority verdict said.

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