SC splits, rules by 3 to 2 majority P A Sangma plea against President Pranab Mukherjee not maintainable

PA Sangma
The Supreme Court today dismissed by a majority ruling former Lok Sabha Speaker P 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 Sangma's petition is not maintainable for regular hearing. The dissenting judges held that the petition deserves regular hearing with one of them noting it was alleged that Mukherjee was holding an office of profit when he filed his nomination papers.

"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.

The two dissenting orders were pronounced separately by Justices J Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi.

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 was fit to deserve regular hearing.

Earlier, the court had taken on record the short affidavit of Mukherjee, who said the grounds for challenging his election was "ex facie misconceived."

Sangma has contended that Mukherjee was holding offices of profit as chairman ISI, Kolkata and as also the leader of the Congress Party in Lok Sabha when he had entered the Presidential race.

Earlier, the Attorney General had opposed the plea of Sangma on the issue of office of profit.

"An office of profit is an office which must be under the Government, which enjoys the power to appoint and remove and some salary or emoluments must be attached to the post," Vahanvati said, adding that this was not the case with the post of Chairperson of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).

"No pecuniary benefits was attached to the post of Chairman of ISI.. Moreover, the post must be such where the office-bearers can be influenced by the appointing authority," the law officer, who is assisting the court, said.

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