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Poll panel rejects Sangma's plea against Pranab

Tuesday July 10, 2012 11:00:01 PM, IANS

New Delhi: The Election Commission Tuesday rejected opposition candidate P.A. Sangma's plea against the decision of the returning officer for the presidential election accepting the nomination papers of UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, official sources said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it would decide soon whether to approach the Supreme Court against the decision.

"Your petition is not maintainable before the Election Commission," said the poll panel in a letter to Sangma's lawyer Satyapal Jain Tuesday in response to the petition.

Sangma, supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), last week demanded that Mukherjee's nomination be rejected as he was holding an office of profit as chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) when he filed his papers June 28. Mukherjee has refuted the charge.

The petition against the decision of Returning Officer V.K. Agnihotri to accept the nomination papers of Mukherjee for the July 19 election was signed by Jain, who also heads the Bharatiya Janata Party's legal cell, besides Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy and Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahatab. It was filed on Monday.

The returning officer's order of July 3 had accepted Mukherjee's nomination following which Team Sangma had verbally complained to the poll panel July 7. They were asked to submit a written complaint.

On July 9, Team Sangma submitted a 180-page document against the July 3 order and asked the poll panel to scrutinise Mukherjee's papers again.

The BJP said it will take a decision of further course of action in two days.

"The BJP's legal cell will meet July 11 and the committee for presidential poll will meet July 12 to decide on what action needs to be taken in the matter," Jain told IANS.

Regarding the objections raised and the allegations made in Jain's petition, the poll panel cited clause (1) of Article 71 of the Constitution which provides that: "All doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with the election of a President or Vice President shall be inquired into and decided by the Supreme Court whose decision shall be final."

Jain said the option of going to the Supreme Court was open.

The documents submitted by Jain included an opinion from a handwriting expert which said that the signature on Mukherjee's resignation letter from the Indian Statistical Institute seemed forged.

Meanwhile, the Congress has dubbed the charge as frivolous.

"It is a frivolous charge," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told IANS.




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