Office of profit: Pranab disputes Sangma’s claims in SC

President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday disputed in the Supreme Court the contention of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma that he was holding an office of profit on the day of filing nomination for President's election.

"The moment he resigns from the Union Cabinet, he ceases to be the Leader of the Lok Sabha and hence, cannot be said to be holding an office of profit," senior advocate Harish Salve told a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir.

He added that either the Prime Minister is the Leader of the Lower House or he can nominate a minister in his place. "Mukherjee ceased to hold the office of Leader of the House as a result of his relinquishing the post from the Cabinet and hence, the allegation that Lok Sabha website showed Mukherjee as the leader even after filing of his nomination for the Presidential poll was of no consequence," said Salve, adding the plea deserved to be dismissed at the preliminary stage itself.

Earlier, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, counsel for Sangma, objected to the mode of Mukherjee's resignation as Leader of Lok Sabha. "The letter (for resigning from post of Leader of Lok Sabha) is not addressed to any Constitutional authority but was addressed to the party president. "The Speaker of the House, under various rules, has to deal with this issue. Mode of relinquishing office is much more complex and requires the role of the Speaker," he said.

He contended that Mukherjee remained an MP till the time he assumed the office of President since the official website of Lok Sabha, updated from time-to-time, showed him as the Leader of the House till July 30.

Jethmalani also raised doubts over authenticity of Mukherjee's resignation from the post of Chairperson of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). The court will resume its hearing on Wednesday.

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