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Sangma plea junked 3:2

New Delhi, Dec. 5: A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court today dismissed by a 3:2 majority P.A. Sangma’s petition challenging Pranab Mukherjee’s election as President.

Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices P. Sathasivam and S.S. Nijjar ruled that the petition was not maintainable under the civil procedure code and Supreme Court rules.

Justices J. Chelameshwar and Ranjan Gogoi said the petition should be subjected to detailed hearing and could not be dismissed at the threshold.

Sangma had lost to Mukherjee by nearly four lakh votes in the July 19 election. He later challenged Mukherjee’s election on the ground that he stood disqualified under “office-of-profit” rules since he was chairperson of the Indian Statistical Institute and leader of the House in the Lok Sabha at the time of filing his nomination.

However, the court’s majority view was that the posts did not fall under the office-of-profit rules warranting disqualification. Further, the judges said the posts did not carry “pecuniary benefits”.

The majority view was that the court was not convinced by the facts and circumstances of the case that the petition deserved a full hearing under the Supreme Court Rules, 1966. “It may not be inappropriate at this stage to mention that this court has repeatedly cautioned that the election of a candidate who has won in an election should not be lightly interfered with unless circumstances so warrant…” Justice Kabir said.

The other two judges, however, felt the issue needed closer scrutiny, which was possible only if there was a detailed hearing. Justice Gogoi, in a separate dissenting judgment, said the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, was not capable of preventing the disqualification of the President, as argued by his counsel, and hence Sangma’s petition should be granted a detailed hearing. Justice Chelameshwar said he would give his views after a week.