Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sonia vs. EC vs. Constitution of India

Just wanted to contribute my tuppence worth to the ongoing issue of Sonia Gandhi accepting the "Order of Leopold" Belgium's 2nd highest Civilian honour, in Nov 2006.

The news items appear here ... TOI, HT, CNN-IBN.

It seems this Belgian award has also been given to Marshall Tito, General Patton and President Eisenhower as well - and hence, its a big deal. Full list here at Wikipedia.

Now the issue was brought to light on a Petition made by someone (from Kerala? - not that it makes a difference which State - but Kerala DOES have the highest literacy rate in the country!).

The controversy arises on account of the fact (?) that the acceptance of the award implies "allegiance" to that country (in this case: Belgium) - and if that is true, then its a problem - as Sonia Gandhi is a Parliamentarian and a "Citizen" by marriage - as per the Constitution of India.

Well, we all know that the Constitution is SUPREME. No Court can interfere with what is written in the Constitution - they can only attempt to interpret - not modify, alter or add to the meanings of the Articles within the Constitution.

So what DOES the Constitution say ..

Here is Article 18:
"18. Abolition of titles - (1) No title, not being a military or academic distinction shall be conferred by the State.
(2) No citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign State.
(3) No person who is not a citizen of India shall, while he holds any office of profit or trust under the State, accept without the consent of the President any title from any foreign State.
(4) No person holding any office of profit or trust under the State shall, without the consent of the President, accept any present, emolument, or office of any kind from or under any foreign State."

Here is Article 102:
"Disqualification for membership -(1) A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament-
(a) If he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;
(b) If he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
(c) If he is an undischarged insolvent;
(d) If he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
(e) If he is so disqualified by or under any law made by the Parliament."

Also, check these articles by S Gurumurthy, here and here.

Ok, so now tell me .. should the EC have issued a Notice, or not??

In my opinion, if the award entailed some kind of "allegiance" to Belgium, then I guess it is justified.

And if so, why should Sonia Gandhi be "above" the Constitution?

THINK ... THINK ... THINK ....

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